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Media updates – marriage equality debate in Australia

April 17, 2016 Leave a comment

 

marriage-equality-concept-gay-rights-43089788There have a few media articles that I would draw your attention to. They really highlight the roles of NGO lobby groups as well as media in pushing and shaping public attitudes towards the issue of marriage equality, as well as changing or consolidating the stance of key MPs involved in the legislative process.

The first media article has to do with the Catholic Church in Australia lobbying several CEOs of major Australian firms to stop supporting marriage equality. (‘Church told gay CEOs at Qantas, SBS to stop supporting marriage equality’, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 2016). Interestingly, two of these CEOs are themselves gay. These firms included Qantas, Telstra and a major law firm called Maurice Blackburn. These CEOs have previously stated their support for marriage equality, with Telstra’s CEO stating that this is about “equality” for him.

Thus far, it appears the counter-lobbying by the Catholic Church might have worked, with Telstra deciding to step back from its public support for marriage equality, prompting threats of boycotts by some LGBTI activists. However, other telecommunication firms like Vodafone have stated their support for marriage equality.

Why is corporate support for this issue significant? First of all, major corporations are major employers.  Therefore, their corporate policies, including employment and employee management policies help shape social norms. This includes integration of anti- homophobia and anti-discrimination policies. In this sense, they are ANOTHER example of a non-government organisation playing a role in shaping public perceptions and by extension, law reforms.

This news, incidentally, can be read in comparison with news from North Carolina and Mississippi about major firms (e.g. Microsoft, Google, Apple, K-Mart) expressing opposition to new state laws that discriminate against lesbians, gays and transgender persons, with major firms stating that they would reconsider whether to invest in North Carolina and Mississippi. (‘Anti-Gay Laws Bring Backlash in Mississippi and North Carolina’, New York Times, 5 April 2016)

Secondly, for major public corporations to step into the political turf war that is marriage equality debate throws further light on this issue. It also underlines the role of media in facilitating public awareness and discussions on this issue.

Second media article is about Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison sharing a stage with a prominent anti-gay rights activist, Eric Metaxas, in an upcoming Australian Christian Lobby conference. (‘Scott Morrison to share Australian Christian Lobby stage with anti-gay extremists‘, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 2016).  Metaxas has made several controversial statements about the marriage equality lobby, including comparing them to the rise of Nazism in Germany.  This article underlines one of the key roles that lobby groups have played in this issue, namely to connect with key MPs who are involved in the legislative process.  The same, incidentally, can also be said for Australian Marriage Equality and their lobbying of key MPs like Senator Wong (ALP) and the PM Malcolm Turnbull (Lib), both of whom attended the 2016 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as supporters.

‘Brides in rush to registry’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2009)

October 18, 2009 2 comments

familyOne of the social trend in Australia is the increasing secularisation of our society, and this trend has strong impact on the institution of marriage.  The following article pose some statistics that illustrate such trend.

‘Brides in rush to registry’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2009)

CIVIL wedding ceremonies are outstripping religious weddings, with brides and grooms keener than ever to get hitched away from church.

Figures show civil ceremonies are now almost twice as popular as church weddings, confirming a trend that began in 2002.

Civil ceremonies overtook religious ceremonies then, with 17,613 church services compared with 18,192 non-church weddings.

So far this year there have been 27,350 marriages in NSW, 17,469 conducted by civil celebrants.

Religion is losing its place as a mean of formalising marriages.  Another statistics is also interesting, the number of people of going through second and third marriages.  According to Anne Hollands from Relationship Australia,

Also, a lot of marriages are second and third marriages, and people are less likely to splash out as much.

CIVIL wedding ceremonies are outstripping religious weddings, with brides and grooms keener than ever to get hitched away from church.
Figures show civil ceremonies are now almost twice as popular as church weddings, confirming a trend that began in 2002.
Civil ceremonies overtook religious ceremonies then, with 17,613 church services compared with 18,192 non-church weddings.
So far this year there have been 27,350 marriages in NSW, 17,469 conducted by civil celebrantsCIVIL wedding ceremonies are outstripping religious weddings, with brides and grooms keener than ever to get hitched away from church.
Figures show civil ceremonies are now almost twice as popular as church weddings, confirming a trend that began in 2002.
Civil ceremonies overtook religious ceremonies then, with 17,613 church services compared with 18,192 non-church weddings.
So far this year there have been 27,350 marriages in NSW, 17,469 conducted by civil celebrants.
Categories: family law Tags: ,

‘Financial pressures causing couples to split: expert’ (ABC News, 12 June 2008)

familySometimes, it is important for Legal Studies students to remind themselves that when it comes to family law, we are dealing with a lot of non-legal factors.  One of this in recent times has been financial pressure caused by the global financial downturn. 

‘Financial pressures causing couples to split: expert’ (ABC News, 12 June 2008)

Relationships Australia says rising living costs and housing stress are causing couples and families to break up.

Financial counsellor Fiona Hawkins says more couples are struggling with relationships because of increased financial pressures.

And she says counsellors are also seeing an increase in problem gambling.

Frankly when there’s no other way to make the budget balance, some people will head to the pokie room and that can put enormous strain on a family’s stability,” she said.

What is also interesting in this article is the notable role of Relationships Australia.  Relationships Australia is a nationwide non-government community based organisation that provides professional services to support relationships.  Aside from provide counselling services and relationship classes, it also provides feedback to government and media on the effectiveness of our family law system.  

Do not confuse Relationships Australia with Relationship Centres, which is a government run services.  

Federal Attorney-General rejects call for recognition of polygamous marriage

May 7, 2009 1 comment

polygamyPolygamous marriage is unlikely to be recognise in Australia anytime soon, despite some calls for it by Islamic community leaders in Sydney, like Keysar Trad.  

‘No recognition for polygamous marriage: A-G (ABC News, 25 June 2008)

The Federal Government has rejected calls from two Muslim leaders to recognise polygamous marriage.

The President of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, Keysar Trad, says women should be allowed to enter into a polygamous marriage if they choose to.

His view is supported by Sheikh Khalil Chami from the Islamic Welfare Centre in Sydney.

The Sheikh says he is regularly asked to perform polygamous marriage ceremonies but declines.

Attorney-General Robert McLelland says the practice is against the law.

There is absolutely no way that the Government will be recognising polygamist relationships,” he said.

“They are unlawful and they will remain as such.”

The statement made Sheik Khalil Chami is interesting, because alternative ‘marriages’ have been taking place in Australia for many years already.  For example, people within the gay and lesbian community have been conducting civil union ceremonies for many years now.  The key point is that they are not legally recognised as ‘marriages’ under Marriage Act 1961 (Cth).  

Categories: family law Tags: , ,

Same Sex Marriage ban lifted in Iowa

April 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Iowa Court Voids Gay Marriage Bangay couple

This has been a part of a recent trend in recent days in US family law.  What’s more interesting is that this has happened in a state that voted Bush in the 2004 presidential election.  This indicates the kind of sea-change that has sweeped an African-American man into the White House, and the lowering of taboo against same-sex marriage.  

Note that this is kind of legislative changes that is unlikely to happen in Australia anytime soon. Marriage is ultimately a federal matter, not a state matter.  While de-facto couples currently fall under state jurisdiction, that will soon be changed under the Rudd government (if not already done so.)  So unless Rudd Labor government changes its mind about the definition of marriage (and it does not look likely), then same-sex marriage is not likely to be legal anytime soon.