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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

House of Representatives report on same-sex marriage

The newly-released report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs can be found here, if you haven't already tracked it down. It includes a list of submissions that have been published, with many of the usual suspects. In some cases, we can be pretty sure of what they say ... in other cases, it would be interesting to look it up:
1 Amnesty International Australia
2 Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law

3 The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG
4 Sikh Council of Australia
5 Lutheran Church of Australia
6 Quakers Australia
7 Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
8 Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
9 Public Interest Advocacy Centre Ltd
10 Australian Human Rights Commission
11 Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney
12 Hindu Council of Australia
13 Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
14 Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
15 Coalition of Celebrant Associations
16 Chinese Methodist Church in Australia
17 Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils Inc.
18 The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory
19 Lawyers for the Preservation of the Definition of Marriage
20 TransGender Victoria
21 Australian Christian Lobby
22 Law Council of Australia
23 Union for Progressive Judaism
24 Seventh-day Adventist Church
25 DEFGLIS
26 Engage Celebrants
27 Episcopal Assembly of Oceania
28 FamilyVoice Australia
29 Rabbinical Council of Victoria
30 Australian Marriage Equality
31 Australian Family Association
32 The Hon. Trevor Khan MLC
33 ACT Legislative Assembly
34 Liberty Victoria
35 Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty
36 Democratic Labor Party of Australia
37 Australian Marriage Forum
38 The Hon. Mr Greg Donnelly MLC
39 The Australian Psychological Society Limited
40 Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
41 Association of Australian Christadelphian Ecclesias
42 UnitingJustice Australia
Overall, the inquiry received about 276,000 submissions - not a bad proportion of the total Australian electorate - with about two thirds apparently favouring provision for same-sex marriage. The Australian Labor Party is allowing a conscience vote in parliament, but the Liberals/Nationals will vote as a block against same-sex marriage, ensuring that the reform cannot succeed at this stage. There are some rumblings about a conscience vote from that side of parliament, but right now it appears unlikely to happen.

Predictably, the report is inconclusive on the actual merits of same-sex marriage ... which is probably appropriate. I'm not sure that it is the job of a parliamentary committee like this to purport to determine the merits of such an issue. The final chapter commences:

This was an inquiry held to examine legal and social issues relating to the two bills, and the effectiveness of each bill in achieving its stated purpose. It was not an inquiry to determine the merits of same-sex marriage. It is for the Parliament to determine the passage of the bill and this report aims to inform the Parliament in its debate on the text and outcome of each bill.

The report does offer more technical advice on the drafting of the Bills that are currently before parliament - so we will probably seem them being amended. In any event the report is important if only for demonstrating how strong the support for state recognition of same-sex marriage has become in Australia.

1 comment:

Greg Camp said...

We're fighting the same battle here in America. Many support same-sex marriage, particularly so the younger the age of the person asked, but when the matter is put to a vote, marriage is often defined as being between a man and a woman only. Courts and legislatures occasionally go the other way.

I'd be pleased to see the government give civil unions to everyone, leaving the question of marriage up to churches, mosques, clubs, and so forth. The civil aspects of marriage--property, insurance claims, hospital visitations, and the like--can be dealt with by the government, while the moral and social parts should be left to groups and individuals to decide.

The Society of Bible-believing Orchid Fanciers, then, can say, "Adam and Eve are married, but Adam and Steve are not," all it wants, but that will matter only to its membership.