Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The High Court SPEAKS NOW... and says NO!

In devastating news for those who got married in the Australian Capital Territory this week, the High Court has ruled the ACT's Marriage Equality laws are invalid. 

By passing a law allowing same-sex marriages to occur in the Territory, this local parliament had directly challenged the Federal Marriage legislation, which, constitutionally, has been a matter for Federal parliament.  

The Marriage Act had been amended in 2004 by Philip Ruddock, the Attorney-General under conservative Prime Minister John Howard, to specifically exclude marriage rights for same sex partners.  The wording of the amendment stated:

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

As some Australian couples were traveling abroad to solemnise their unions, the amendment also stated:

Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

Given the High Court's ruling this week, the constitutional division of authority will hold, and the marriage laws, finally tested before the country's highest court, will maintain the status quo.

However, according to its national director, Rodney Croome, the intervention of Australian Marriage Equality has helped to compel the court to declare for the first time that the Federal Parliament can legislate for marriage equality. 

Further, yesterday - following weeks of lobbying - AME helped establish a cross-party working group with Labor, Greens, and Liberal National Party members to progress reform through the nation's Federal Parliament. 

So the need to lobby the lawmaker politicians in Canberra returns, once again, to centre stage.

However, over the past few years hundreds of thousands of emails have been sent to MPs and Senators across Australia. So much so that AME feels that MPs' email systems have been overwhelmed and the majority of the emails are probably now going into spam folders.

In that case, the next move would be to take the extra step, beyond electronic communications, by phoning and speaking to, or arranging to meet with, local MP representatives and Senators to let them know why marriage equality matters.

This website can assist in finding out where MPs stand on the issue: