The marriage equality debate is taking centre stage in mainstream media once again following the decision of Australian tennis great Margaret Court to boycott Qantas because of its support of marriage equality.
Debate has been rife in the media about Court’s treatment following her public stance against Qantas with many arguing that her right to have an opinion should be defended. Supporters of Court appear to be missing a very crucial point however; Court threw the first punch. She is a woman of significant influence, a Christian Minister, who publicly attacked a company with millions of stakeholders arguably to push a personal, political or religious agenda.
The real debate however is the subject of marriage equality itself.
Perplexingly, despite the Government’s refusal to put a marriage equality bill before Parliament, there already exist numerous examples of State and Federal laws that recognise same-sex relationships as being identical to heterosexual ones.
Here are some of examples of these inconsistencies:
• The Family Law Act. The definition of a de facto relationship in one of the country’s most active pieces of legislation does not preclude same-sex marriages. In fact, family law affords parties to a same-sex union the same protections as heterosexual couples.
• Welfare. In assessing a person’s access to welfare benefits the Government deems a same-sex de facto relationship as a valid relationship reducing welfare entitlements to each party of the relationship as if they were in a heterosexual relationship or were married.
• Criminality. In a society where homosexuals cannot get married based on their sexuality you might be surprised to learn that child molesters, rapists, murderers and other violent criminals are still afforded the right to marry. This is despite not only their offences but our legal system determining that they should be deprived of their most basic human right, liberty, and confined to a prison cell.
• Social Security More Generally. A same-sex law reform package passed through Parliament in November 2008 to remove discrimination against same-sex de facto couples in areas such as taxation, superannuation, social security and other areas.
It is obvious that some of the changes resulting in these inconsistencies are positive, for example in the context of family law and social security. But it begs the questions, if we have come so far in some areas, why is the Government still petrified to legislate for marriage equality?
The only answer is that it is a political ploy to pander to the religious conservative base of the current Government. Interestingly, the ALP have emerged as vocal champions of the cause despite doing nothing to change the status quo when they were last in power up until 2013.
It’s a disenchanting state of affairs when social issues like this one are dictated by politics, not society.