Friday, 13 November 2009

Third Time Unlucky?

I live in Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Twice now, the local legislature has enacted provisions that would parallel the "Civil Unions" or "Civil Partnerships" that are found in other countries, which are deemed an acceptable alternative to marriage when it comes to same-sex relationships, and marriage itself is forbidden.

Twice, the liberal (ie Right of Centre) Federal Government has stepped in, disallowing such legislation. They can do that, because the ACT is a territory, not a state. It's about the only significant difference between the two concepts. Such intervention has only been used three times in Australia's history, all by the previous government. Once against the Northern Territory's legislation to legalise euthenasia under very strictly limited conditions, and twice against the ACT on this issue.

The Constitution gives power to the Federal Government over marriage law: that at least is consistent, even if the various states and territories differ when it comes to deciding what sex someone who is TS or IS is.

Now we have "hope and change", a Labor (ie Left of Centre) government. One with a strong rusted-in Irish Catholic Socialist faction.... and a Prime Minister who takes his Christian Beliefs very seriously, as he's said on multiple occasions.

From the Canberra Times :
Greens leader Bob Brown has vowed to lead the charge against any move by federal Labor to disallow the new civil union laws the ACT Legislative Assembly passed this week.

The ACT Government backed a Greens Bill which gave same-sex couples the right to legally binding ceremonies under the civil union laws the ACT Labor Government introduced last year.

However, the new laws are likely to be disallowed by the Federal Government, which believes such provisions ''undermine and mimic'' marriage between a man and woman. Senator Brown, who is openly gay, said yesterday he would ''find it incredible if Kevin Rudd simply rubber-stamped John Howard on this issue''.
''He [Mr Rudd] would genuinely need to inform his Labor representatives in the Senate ahead of time because they will cop it, and I certainly will lead a Senate disallowance motion if it comes to that.'' Senator Brown said it was unreasonable for territory laws to be subject to federal interference.

The ACT Government and Greens believe the legislation passed in the Assembly on Wednesday is consistent with the Commonwealth's constitutional right to legislate exclusively with respect to marriage. Just to be sure, the amendments included a provision that excluded from civil union ceremonies any couple that ''may marry under the Marriage Act''. However, this provision has angered one same-sex marriage lobby group, Equal Love, which argues it could also exclude transgender people.

Equal Love's Canberra spokesman John Kloprogge said, ''Our concern there was that it was unnecessary and exclusionary and would prohibit heterosexual couples and transgender and intersex couples from having access to official ceremonies. ''The ACT Government has taken the wrong policy approach by putting forward a flawed Bill just to appease the Federal Government.''

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, who introduced the Bill, said his advice was that transgender persons would not be excluded by his legislation unless they had legally changed their sex, as this would entitle them to enter into a marriage under the Marriage Act.
I'm still married: but it's a really good question as to whether I've changed my legal sex. From the Federal viewpoint, I have - the cardinal document is my immigration record. At the Territory level though, they go by the Birth Certificate. And as my UK BC is unchangeable because technically I'm Intersexed rather than Trans... I haven't.

So it looks like there's a possibility that, had I wished to dissolve my existing marriage, I could either get a same-sex Civil Partnership with a man under territory law, as I'm deemed male as far as the ACT is concerned, or get married to him under Federal Law, as to the Federal government, I'm female. The alternative is that I could get enter a "heterosexual" civil union with another woman, (it wouldn't be "same-sex" under ACT law as I'm male to them, remember) while being prohibited under Federal law from re-marrying the woman I'm married to currently if we divorce.

This illustrates once more the whole foetid absurdity of these legislative acrobatics, the loops, convolutions and exceptions, the lack of common-sense and basic humanity when it comes to institutionalising bigotry. Because stripped of all pretence and hypocrisy, that's what it is.

While claiming to "preserve the sanctity" of what I believe firmly is a genuinely sacred institution, the bigots make of it a mockery and a farce. Any argument that would otherwise be plausible about "preserving traditional concepts" of marriage, that it's a matter of respect for pure, simple religious belief is exploded by this whole nonsense. They just don't like gays, and don't like them so much, that annihilation of our basic human rights is acceptable. "Collateral damage" if they're charitable, a "Consummation devoutly to be wished" if they're not.

And incidentally, once again, Trans and Intersexed people get the shaft.


Lloyd Flack said...

I can understand those who do not see same sex partnerships as equivalent to their marriage and want them to be called something different. Those homosexuals who insist on having their unions described as marriage and right now do themselves and everyone else no favours.

However the sancity of marriage is not upheld by denying homosexuals the ability to form social partnerships and the ability to designate their partners as next of kin. My rights are not upheld by denying similar rights in others. Quite the opposite. By not merely denying homosexual unions the name of marriage but also denying them for no good reason the substance of the applicable subset of marriage's attributes they bring support of marriage into disrepute.

The opponents of gay marriage want homosexuals to have no access to any of the substance of marriage. They seem bent on getting me to support gays having access to the name and all the substance, something that would otherwise not be imortant to me.

Battybattybats said...

Has someone git a detailed breakdown of the etymology of the word marriage? I'd ask my linguist Mum but she's way too busy atm.

Cause I know that marriage-like institutions have existed in myriad forms throughout history including amongst them same-sex marriages if by another name.

Unless it can be conclusively shown that the word has in history only ever referred to heterosexual marriage then those oppossing the use of the word mariage for same-sex couples are just plain wrong. And if imposinbg a religious version of marriage from just some religions over what is a secular institution in a mulit-cultural country then they are anti-australian theocrats and a threat to all religious livberty in the country.

On the other hand if they are right then simply grabiing the word from any of those other marriage-traditions from history and the worlds many cultrues that was used for same-sex marriages in the past should be fine.

E said...

This week, we saw Joe Hockey making a very conspicuous attempt to establish his 'religious cred'; doubtless part of a succession plan in the Liberal Party. This is a worry.

I cannot recall this need of politicians to show their views on religion until the late 80s, although this didn't become a must until well into the 90s.

Sadly, the Liberal Party is beholden to certain religious influences in its social policy and its habit of throwing money toward favoured groups makes them anything but free marketeers. The ALP has a right wing which is similar afflicted by the urge to please a certain type of religious person.

All of this makes figuring out how to vote a bit worrying.

I hope that Joe Hockey, or another 'wet', becomes leader of that party. If the Liberals can shift their social policy toward, well, liberalism, that may provider scope for people inside the ALP to overcome the influence of religious/social conservatives.

If the current trends continue, there is a possibility that the progress of recent decades may be lost.

Anonymous said...

Gosh Zoe, your convuluted marrige issues leaves me confused. Being IS as well and living in the US its funny that I can legally marry a woman and yet have to deal with the fact that such a marriage would be subject to annulment instantly. Living in Connetcut I could marry anyone, but would still have to worry about annulment of any marriage.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, but it is complicated, isn't it.

Look at me. I'm a Canadian female, but a UK male, albeit I have a female UK passport and driving licence.

I have not signed up to a bar code on the UK Gender Identity Register. I know who I am, and I do not need - or want - the State to sanction my identity.

So, I could marry a woman in the UK. That is, to all intents and purposes, a lesbian marriage. Or, this woman could marry a man in a homosexual civil partnership (that's the law). But it looks like a straight marriage, but not called that.

Alternately, we could go to Canada and just get married (the union between two persons), but then when we got back to the UK, the previous strictures would apply.

Messy, isn't it?

Donna Patricia