I posted this article before the amendments to the Marriage Act were made to include all people. Like so many other Australian folk, I am so pleased to see another one of the elements of discrimination and prejudice being repealed.
In 2015, the US Supreme Court expressed what a great many people had felt appropriate for a heck of a long time. The judgement of that court was:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfilment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilisation’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
European countries started legalising same sex marriages firstly with the Netherlands in 2001, and now more than 20 countries recognise same sex partnerships. England, Scotland and Wales legalised same sex marriage in 2014. Ireland conducted a referendum legalising same sex marriage in 2015. And our closest neighbours, New Zealand legalised same sex marriage in 2013.
The current law in Australia limits “Marriage” to the union of a man and a woman. And so, at the moment, “Marriage” other than of a man and a woman, cannot be made.
The government has cancelled plans for a plebiscite to seek the view of the Australian people as a whole. In any case, some conservative members of parliament had said they would not be bound by such a plebiscite. They would ignore the overall result if their constituents voted against the question. Of course, there was also no guarantee that the government wouldn’t buckle to the pressure of some of their ultra – conservative members.
There was strong opposition to holding a plebiscite on the basis that firstly such a question would be divisive to the community, and that this is not a Constitutional question, and as such should be decided by a vote of Parliament.
It is clear that the mood in Australia is overwhelmingly in favour of changing the law to end discrimination against LGBTA folk.
When can we expect the law to change?
Given that there will be no plebiscite, it appears that the only definite method of change is through a change of government. The current opposition, along with the Greens, have openly supported a change to allow same sex marriage. The next Federal election will probably be held between August 2018 and May 2019.
Given the general disappointment with the current government, I am confident we will have a change of the law, at least by 2019, but possibly after next August.
The law in Australia on this issue of equal rights is very unfair. But being upset doesn’t help. Planning for when the law is changed is a lot more use.
When do you want to marry?
In Perth, October and November are busy months for weddings. The weather is great, flowers and gardens are looking fabulous. And Spring is a great time for a wedding. Similarly, March and April have great weather.
Of course, there are a lot of weddings held in other months. Summer weddings on the beach (after the sea breeze) are beautiful. Winter weddings, particularly out of the city, are often intimate, cosy events.
Shall we do nothing?
Weddings are of course not organised on the spur of the moment, and any wedding needs to be planned many months in advance, including booking a fabulous celebrant.
But what if the law is not changed by then? The conservative and thought out answer is to wait until the government sets out clearly the timing of the change to the law.
However, an alternative might be to make the arrangements and enter into an agreement with your celebrant. You could agree to the date, and if the law is not changed by then, you could proceed with a Commitment Ceremony. Hopefully you could also agree that if you held a formal Commitment Ceremony, a wedding could follow at little or no extra fee once the law had been changed.
This is where open discussion about the issues and possible outcomes becomes invaluable. Having a coffee and a chat, before you engage a celebrant, is important.
An informal chat helps you to judge if the celebrant sees your wedding as important as any other between two people..
Now is a good time for same sex couples to decide if they want to have a legal wedding in Australia when the law is changed.
Planning for a wedding takes some time, and those plans are not going to make themselves.