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Just Do It!

15 March 2012

The storms are brewing in Australia again about marriage between same-sex couples.  When John Howard was Prime Minister, he actually inserted into the Marriage Act a clause that stated that the people being married had to be of opposite sexes, in order to make it more difficult for the Act to cover same-sex unions.

One argument that pops up time and again is that “marriage” is a legally defined term (which I suppose it is since JH got that clause inserted) and that we can’t just change historical and social mores.  To paraphrase a more eloquent person than I – “Yes We Can”

There is a very interesting and informative article here – Ten Key Moments in the History of Marriage from the BBC website.  It’s purely Anglo-Saxon in its content but shows how the ideas of marriage have changed over time.

Last week I told you all about my wedding in an Aboriginal community.  I don’t think I mentioned that it was only the 5th wedding to take place there – traditional Aboriginals don’t have marriage ceremonies in the same sense that we do although they do have life-long committed relationships – so the only marriages with a civil celebrant or religious minister in the community had been between non-Aboriginal couples.  Different societies at different times in history have different views of what constitutes a marriage. 

Some laws are introduced to make changes to society and force people to change their ways.  Some are introduced to reflect changes that have already taken place in society.  A change to the Marriage Act would I think fall into the latter category.  The law already protects homosexual people in Australia in a lot of ways.  The majority of Australians either are in favour of a change to the Marriage Act or couldn’t care less. 

So let’s stop faffing around and just DO it!

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6 comments

  1. Of course there have been changes in thinking and practice around marriage. I remember learning in my law class about “The Deceased Wife’s Sister Act” of (I think) 1907. Prior to that, it was forbidden to marry one’s late wife’s sister as it was regarded as akin to incest, even though there is no blood connection. Marriage is a legal state and religion shouldn’t play any part in influencing legislation. If people want to marry in church, that’s their own affair, but they should remember that by doing this they are entering into a LEGAL relationship, just as they would be were the ceremony in a register office.


  2. I wish I could find a reference, but I remember hearing somewhere that one of the first ever “Christian” marriages was between a Roman citizen and his male slave.

    Indeed, the law has to catch up with societal attitudes, and it’s about bloody time.


  3. I have a strong suspicion, but cannot yet prove, that my g-g-great-grandfather’s two wives were sisters. He married the second one in about 1835 in England, after the first one died and left him with a small child to look after. His brother-in-law was a Church of England minister.

    Apparently, one could get away with a certain amount of flouting of the rules, even then (and without being nobility). However, I haven’t been able to find any newspaper notices of the second marriage, so perhaps they kept it quiet. Then again, maybe they announced it in a different paper, one that’s not online yet.


  4. It’s absolutely time to stop the farting about on this matter. Honestly, it’s not like the world as we know it will come to a grinding halt if same-sex couples marry.

    Let any adult couple behave as they see fit. Banning gay marriage is just discrimination under the guise of religious bias.

    And thanks for the earlier posts about ACM/KAL. Great information.


  5. It still boggles my mind that some people are so afraid of same-sex marriage.
    “The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next.” Matthew Arnold
    I agree…it’s time.


  6. I asked your friend and mine, Sally, (JA) how he would vote if there was a conscience vote allowed by Popeye – he suddenly was no longer “friendly” and told me very icily that he “didn’t like being trapped” that way. So, no joy there.

    The strange thing is, that friends of ours were married in Germany, yet they don’t have the same legal rights as same sex couples in Australia. Weird. Totally weird when you think about it.

    I believe ALL marriages should be civil unions (as in many European countries) which could be later solemnised, if that’s the word, in a church, if so desired. If marriage is a legal union, the church and state should maintain their separation. The fight to have a church blessing then becomes a separate issue – just another battle of the old and the new – as is the fuss over female priests/ministers.



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