Homosexuality - same-sex 'marriage'
In the past decade or two homosexual rights activists and lobby groups have waged a persistent campaign to have their relationships 'recognised'.
This has been in various stages - first, they campaigned to have homosexuality itself decriminalised (in Victoria, this occurred in the early 1980s.) Then they campaigned for the changing of laws to recognise their 'rights' - and receive acceptance of their relationships by gaining rights that de facto couples have. (In Victoria, this happened in 2000).
The next step in their path to 'recognition' is for formal recognition of relationships - either formal 'marriage' or 'civil unions' or 'relationship registers' and so on... this page addresses the issue of 'marriage' and the countries that have legalised same-sex 'marriage'.
It also covers attempts in Australia to legalise same-sex 'marriage'.
Often the official legal recognition of relationships - whether as civil partnerships, civil unions or relationship registers - is seen as a 'stepping stone' to gaining full 'marriage'. In 2012, Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull, who fully supports same-sex 'marriage', suggested that if attempts to legalise same-sex 'marriage' fail, then a form of civil registration could be the next step and he pointed out that most countries that have 'marriage' first had some form of legal registration of relationships. Read his speech.
See also our webpage on civil unions and relationship registers.
Same-sex 'marriage' legal in 11 countries
As of August 2012, same-sex 'marriages' are legal in eleven countries:
* The Netherlands - 2001
* Belgium - 2003
* Spain - 2005
* Canada - 2005
* South Africa - 2006
* Norway - Passed June 2008 - in force from 1 January 2009. Media article.
* Sweden - Passed 1 April 2009. Media article
* Portugal - legal since June 5, 2010.
* Iceland - legal since June 27, 2010.
* Argentina - legal since July 22, 2010.
* Denmark - legalised from 15 June, 2012.
Same-sex 'marriages are also allowed in Mexico City (effective March 2010).
In June 2011, Brazil's Supreme Court allowed a homosexual couple to change their 'civil union (granted in Brazil in May 2011) to get a licence to 'marry'. (Read report)
USA: Six states of the USA have legalised same-sex 'marriage'. Other states have passed it - but these are the subject of legal challenges. (Read overview)
In Australia, the Howard government took a decisive step in 2004 by amending the Marriage Act to include a statement that marriage is "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life". (Sect 5). The federal government does not 'register' homosexual relationships - however several states have taken that step to establish 'relationship registers' and the ACT has a 'civil partnership' scheme. For more details, see our Relationship Registration webpage.
In late 2008, the government passed laws to change 84 Commonwealth laws to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual de facto couples. See details.
In 2009, the Greens introduced the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill into the federal Senate - to change the Marriage Act to allow marriages between any two people. The Bill was not passed. However, in September 2010, shortly after the federal election (August 2010), Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young re-introduced the Greens 'Marriage Equality Amendment Bill' into the Senate - if passed it would allow same-sex 'marriage'. The Greens lobbied to get all parties to allow a conscience vote on the issue.
Read the text and status of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010.
Following the 2010 federal election, the newly elected Greens MP in the House of Representatives, Adam Bandt, put forward a same-sex 'marriage' Bill - this was amended to ask all MPs to speak to their constituents to find out their views on the issue.
2011 - 2012 - The issue is the subject of much lobbying from the homosexual community. The ALP Annual Conference in 2011 formally adopted - as official ALP policy - support for same-sex 'marriage'. In return for getting this passed as 'policy', it was decided that ALL federal MPs and Senators would be given a conscience vote on the issue in the parliament. In the lead-up to that conference all state and Territory ALP branch conferences had passed motions to support same-sex 'marriage'.
Meanwhile, Labor PM Julia Gillard says she does not support same-sex 'marriage - a statement made when it was then Labor policy was to oppose it. Following the adoption of same-sex 'marriage' as ALP policy The question is, for how long will that be the case?
2012 - Three Bills in the Australian parliament
The Senate is debating the Bill put forward by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
In the House of Representatives, Labor MP Stephen Jones put forward a Bill to legalise same-sex 'marriage'. It is called the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012.
A second Bill has been jointly sponsored by Greens MP Adam Bandt and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie. It is called the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012.
For full details, see our Campaign Page on these Bills.
'Marriage' in overseas countries - more details...
On 1 December 2005, South Africa's Constitutional Court extended marriage to include same-sex couples which went into effect by December 2006. The Parliament passed a law allowing that.
USA - states
The US state of Massachusetts (2004) and the state of California (2008) have also recognised same-sex 'marriage'.
In California, the Supreme Court allowed same-sex 'marriage' - but this was overturned by Proposition 8, a referendum held at the same time as the US Presidential election in November 2008. Several court cases have ensued and the outcome is not yet finalised. Currently same-sex 'marriage is not allowed in California.
New York State legalised same-sex 'marriage' in June 2011 - joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, plus Washington, D.C. and the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon. Same-sex 'marriages' are 'recognised' in Rhode Island and Maryland. (Overview of USA situation on Wikipedia)
In 2009 the Swedish parliament considered a Bill to legalise “gender neutral marriage”. Six of the seven political parties were said to support the Bill. Three of the four parties in the ruling government Coalition support it - all except the small Christian Democratic Party.
Sweden was the third nation to introduce ‘registered partnerships’ in 1995 (source) (following Denmark in 1989 and Norway in 1993). Now they are joining the move to change from these ‘partnerships’ to ‘marriage' - since both forms of relationship now have the same rights in Sweden!
The Bill was introduced in January 2009. The Swedish Parliament passed legislationto allow same-sex 'marriage' on 1 April 2009. The vote was 261 in favour, 22 opposed - 70 MPs did NOT vote. It became law in May 2009.
Civil unions/Civil Partnerships/Registered relationships
Other countries have recognised 'civil unions', 'civil partnerships', 'Registered Partnerships' or 'Relationship Registers' - these include the UK (2006), Denmark and Sweden.
Some Australian states have changed their laws in various ways. Regarding the formal recognition or registration of relationships, Tasmania (which was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality in 1994) has a 'Relationship Register', which was introduced in January 2004. It covers 'significant relationships' (heterosexual and same-sex) and 'caring relationships'. Click here for details.
In the first two years of its operation only 58 couples registered - 43 in the first year and 15 couples in the second year. There were 63 couples by April 2006.
By December 2007 there were 100 couples. Click here for more details.
Since its original introduction, the Tasmanian government has amended the law twice:
First, in November 2009, they allowed 'ceremonies' to be held in connection with the registration of the relationships. [Source: Aust Marriage Equality website.]
In 2010, the government further amended the law to allow relationships registered elsewhere in Australia or overseas to be recognised. That amendment ALSO recognises same-sex 'marriages' performed overseas. The law passed the House of Assembly with only 3 Liberals voting against it - and passed the Legislative Council in October 2010 with no opposition - see here and here.
The Australian Capital Territory proposed a 'civil unions' Bill which went to the ACT Legislative Assembly in March 2006. This was passed, but was overturned by the federal Howard government. A second bill, the 'Civil Partnerships Bill', was then proposed and the Coalition again said they would overturn it as it was too close to marriage.
Following the election of the Rudd federal Labor government in November 2007, the ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said he would re-introduce his law. This caused a flurry of reaction from the Australian Christian Lobby, mainly because the ALP had committed to a policy of supporting state-based relationship registers prior to the election but the ALP were said to oppose 'civil unions' as such.
When Kevin Rudd said he would not overturn state laws (meaning the ACT law if passed would stand), the ACL said Mr Rudd was breaking faith with the Christian community and reminded Kevin Rudd that he and Labor had promised they would not allow civil unions, but would support state-based relationship registers similar to that proposed by the ACL and enacted in Tasmania (this was in the Labor platform prior to the 2007 election). The federal Attorney General Robert McClelland met with the ACT Attorney General and they agreed to discuss it further with the idea of getting a nationally consistent scheme. Then Kevin Rudd eventually said that that he supported relationship registers, and the ACL commended his position.
As they say, a week is a long time in politics!
The ACT government made a few changes and eventually passed a 'Civil Partnerships Act' in 2008 - not a Relationship Register' scheme.
The Victorian Labor Government proposed a 'Relationships Register' following the introduction of registers by several local Councils.
The legislation was passed in mid-2008 and came into operation on 1 December 2008. The law is the Relationships Act 2008.
New South Wales
The NSW parliament passed legislation establishing a 'Relationships Register' in 2010 - it commenced on July 1, 2010.
See information about the relationships register - click here.
The Bligh Labor govenrment hurriedly passed a Civil Partnershiplaw in late 2011, just prior to the 2012 election at which they lost power. Various pro-family groups called on the Liberals to repeal the law. The incoming Liberal Premier Campbell Newman had said he would investigate repealing the law, but it - at least in part - depended on the legal status of any couples who had enetered into a civil partnership. In the end, he said he wouldn't repeal the law but, following lobbying from ACL, he said he would not allow celebrants or ceremoies as they 'mimic' marriage... and eventually decided to change the name to a 'relationship register'. Read Qld government description of situation and law.
Registration by Cities
Sometimes cities introduce such legislation when the state or nation does not provide for such recognition. For example, San Francisco has a relationships register but the State of California does not.
Sydney: Sydney introduced a relationships register in 2005 (an updated form of a register first started in 2003), called the City of Sydney Relationships Declaration Program under the leadership of Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Ironically, in the first 12 months ONLY 22 couples registered!
Melbourne: The Melbourne City Council decided to establish a Relationships Register on 27 March 2007. Click here for details.
Other Councils - Yarra and Port Phillip Councils also introduced relationship registers during 2007.
Outcomes from legalising same-sex 'marriage
DEMAND FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: EVIDENCE FROM THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, AND EUROPE
By Maggie Gallagher & Joshua K. Baker (April 2006) - Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.
This study analysed all the countries where same-sex marriage is currently available and looked at how many homosexuals are actually 'marrying' when they have the legal option to do so.
In general they found that between 1% and 5% of homosexuals have 'married' in places like The Netherlands and Belgium. These figures are based on census data and estimates of the number of homosexuals and homosexual couples. If higher percentages of homosexuals are in the community then the percentage of those actually 'marrying' is actually lower.
In Canada and Massachusetts, they estimated higher figures of 14 - 16 %. Part of the reason for these higher figures may be due to the fact that people from outside those countries can be 'married' in Canada - and though the Mass. law says only residents can 'marry', non-residents have 'married there.
Detailed analysis of the available data.....
Click here for the 12 page report .
Whenever one investigates this subject, we must be very aware that much of the research is done by homosexuals themselves.
This VERY enlightening article from World Net Daily picks up several incidences where homosexuals have done the research... and this is often NOT disclosed....
Homosexual adoption report written by 'pro-gay advocate'
World Net Daily, 25 March 2006.
Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting
Dr Loren Marks, Social Science Research, Volume 41, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 735–751.
Dr Loren Marks has analysed the research done by the the American Psychological Association (APA) for their same-sex parenting Brief published in 2005. He notes that the 'Summary of Research' on same-sex parenting was done by Charlotte Patterson- who is herself a lesbian with a lesbian partner and three children - who also did much of the research. He points out the methodological flaws.
Articles opposing same-sex 'marriage'
A selection of articles opposing the acceptance of same-sex 'marriages'.
Why "Gay Marriage" Is Wrong
Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D. (July 2004)
Advocates of homosexual practice often argue that "gay marriage," or at least homosexual civil unions, will reduce promiscuity and promote fidelity among homosexual persons. Such an argument overlooks two key points.
"Gay Marriage" as a Contradiction in Terms
First, legal and ecclesiastical embrace of homosexual unions is more likely to undermine the institution of marriage and produce other negative effects than it is to make fidelity and longevity the norm for homosexual unions. We will come back to this later.
Second, and even more importantly, homosexual unions are not wrong primarily because of their disproportionately high incidence of promiscuity (especially among males) and breakups (especially among females). They are wrong because "gay marriage" is a contradiction in terms. As with consensual adult incest and polyamory, considerations of commitment and fidelity factor only after certain structural prerequisites are met....."
Against Same Sex Marriage - The Six Point Case
1. Natural marriage is the foundation of a civilized society.
A six part article on the website 'All about Love', summarised from Frank Turek's book - Correct, not Politically Correct: How same-sex 'marriage' hurts everyone.
"Each of these six points against same sex marriage will be explained in detail in the following articles. Click on each link for more explanation.
2. Homosexual behavior is inherently destructive.
3. The law is a great teacher, and it encourages or discourages behavior.
4. Government-backed same-sex marriage would encourage and normalize homosexual behavior, and it would harm natural marriage, children, adults, and homosexuals themselves.
5. The law should promote behaviors that are beneficial and prohibit (or at least not endorse) those that are destructive.
6. Therefore, the law should promote natural marriage, and it should provide no option for government-backed same-sex marriage or civil unions.
Against Same Sex Marriage - The Executive Summary
Same-sex marriage is a very emotional issue for many people. However, when one separates emotions from facts, it is clear that the state has compelling reasons to endorse natural marriage and not same-sex marriage or civil unions...."
Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples
By Timothy J. Dailey, Ph. D. - Family Research Council
"Married and Gay Couples Not All that Different," proclaimed the headline of a news article portraying homosexual households as remarkably similar to married couples. "We're the couple next door," claimed one partnered homosexual. "We have a dog and a cat. I drive a Volvo. I'm boring." Such down-home portrayals of homosexual couples are meant to provoke the question: Since gay couples really differ only in that both partners are of the same sex, what rational basis exists for denying them full marriage rights?
Are homosexual households, as the article suggests, simply another variant of human relationships that should be considered, along with marriage, as "part of mainstream American society"?
On the contrary, the evidence indicates that "committed" homosexual relationships are radically different from married couples in several key respects:
· relationship duration
· monogamy vs. promiscuity
· relationship commitment
· number of children being raised
· health risks
· rates of intimate partner violence
Finally, this paper will present evidence from gay activists themselves indicating that behind the push for gay marriage lies a political agenda to radically change the institution of marriage itself.
Talking About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions
I. Why Does Marriage Matter?
When their mothers and fathers don’t get and stay married, bad things happen to more kids more often: more poverty, welfare dependence, child abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, physical illness, infant mortality, accidental death, homicide, premature and promiscuous sexuality, early unwed pregnancy, suicide, juvenile delinquency, educational failure, conduct disorders and adult criminality. Children suffer and whole communities pay the cost in crime, social disorder and high taxes as government steps in to deal with the needs created when families fall apart. Family structure matters and the family form that does the best job for kids is the child’s own married mother and father.
Marriage is not created by government. It is older than the Constitution, older than America, older even than the church. It exists in every known human society and it always has something to do with bringing men and women together so that society has the next generation it needs and children have both mothers and fathers, as they need.
She then gives 5 reasons for opposing same-sex 'marriage'.
More articles are available at the Colson Center on this topic.