Saturday, May 17, 2008

Australia accepts gay unions not straight symbolism

In Australia marriage is for one man and one woman. It is not for two men or two women, unless one is no longer a man or woman. A woman born a man may marry a man, as long as he remains a man, and she keeps taking her hormones.

The only way gays may marry in Australia is by sex-change, a rather extreme declaration of love, and anything that even “mimics” marriage is likewise banned.

The federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, said last week his government would make 100 or so changes to tax, social security and other laws to stop discriminatory treatment of gay couples. The changes are welcome and enjoy bipartisan support. But he has scuppered civil unions.

“We don’t support a measure that mimics marriage,” he told The 7.30 Report, which sounds a lot like: “you’re not welcome in our marriage club, and don’t start one of your own.”

That notable gay-rights activist, George Bush, said in 2004: “I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that’s what a state chooses to do.”

But the Rudd Government is doing precisely that, forcing the ACT to water down its second attempt at introducing civil partnerships, and making things tricky for its senior minister, Penny Wong.

In 2006, Wong said the Howard Government was more extreme and conservative than Bush for having the Governor-General invalidate the ACT’s first attempt. When asked this week whether her government was too, she concentrated on the 100 changes.

Meanwhile, Labor does “positively encourage” a nationally consistent system of relationship registration, an unfortunate term more often used for dogs, although there’s no proposal to microchip gay couples.

McClelland said such a system might be for more than gay couples. It might be for financially dependent carers, or good friends or two firemen who pretend to be gay to get benefits (as in last year’s Adam Sandler comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry).

This wider net is more palatable to the religious right, as the qualification moves from bonking to banking. It also increases the potential cost to taxpayers if it means Chuck and Larry, for example, qualify for the family Medicare Safety Net.

Both registration and civil unions would qualify couples for almost-equal treatment, but civil unions look like weddings. Ergo, they are bad.

The ACT Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, thought the attitude to civil unions would change with the government. In December, Kevin Rudd said this issue was for the states and territories. But Rudd’s government has since decided to mimic its predecessor, and heavied Corbell to water-down his plan. It vowed to again override the legislation if he didn’t.
Digg it: source : at A gay mens blog

Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Blue Dot
  • Digg
  • Furl
  • Netscape
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

No comments: