MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN AUSTRALIA. WHAT’S GOING ON?
“Homosexuals being given the same rights to love, marry and have a family just like everyone else, with no concerns about their safety and security is what we are aiming for. Overall life will not change for other people. The sun will rise in the east and still set in the west, it’ll just be another day”, Jacob Roberts, states firmly when I asked him what he believes will change if the marriage equality act was passed in Australia.I met 22-year-old Jacob only a few days ago and once we got to talking, I knew his take on the subject would be interesting.
Marriage equality has been an ongoing issue for decades, however, over the past year, the issue has literally gone worldwide. “We’re fighting for our deserved equality and legal rights that a defacto couple and married couple process,” he continues saying with a hopeful look in his eyes. Growing up knowing his whole life that he was different, he feels proud to not be confined in secrecy anymore.
What’s happening right now?
When Malcolm Turnbull was re-elected on the 2nd July 2016, his promise was to hold a marriage equality plebiscite before the end of the year. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten declared that an “expensive” plebiscite on same-sex marriage would hurt gay people, confirming that Labor would vote against it. Without Labor’s support, it wouldn’t pass the Senate. Jacob agreed with Shorten; “With just as many advertisements supporting gay marriage, there would have been the same amount against it- potentially being harmful and discouraging to young people who are unsure about themselves.”
It was very unexpected that the plebiscite was estimated to cost Australian tax payers $160 million when a census could have been made in its place. Amnesty International explains the plebiscite as being a frustrating distraction from the simple route of a free vote in parliament.
Jacob emotionally describes one situation that can happen, which is different for a defacto or married couple. “A gay couple can live together for years, and let’s say they had twins using IVF- fertilizing each egg separately so the children have the same Mum and two Dads, being related. If one partner dies, everything legally owned by the deceased, including the child with his DNA can be taken away from the other partner and handed down to the next of kin, separating the children too.” This is one situation where equal rights are needed.
Despite 70 per cent of Australians supporting marriage equality, according to Fairfax Ipsos poll, and just 22 per cent against, the Australian government has still yet to pass this. The High Court ruled in 2013 that our parliament has the power to make this change.
Malcolm has admitted that he is still pushing for a plebiscite but a parliamentary vote would be the next resort. With quite a large number of politicians against gay marriage, the vote may be held back for years. With over 20 countries legalising gay marriage, and many others following those footsteps or even implementing similar constitutions, Jacob believes that it is only a matter of time before the Australian government accepts the change.
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