A wonderful young man, Orlando Burcham 11 y/o, has recently written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressing his concerns about the current government position on Marriage Equality. Read Orlando’s great letter here and the response from our Prime Minister.
Orlando’s letter was heartfelt and an honest reflection of his thoughts on the issue. I found Prime Minister Abbott’s response more clinical and in fact somewhat misleading. I refer you to this part of his response.
“The Government supports the current definition of marriage contained in the Marriage Act 1961. Any change to this policy would be a matter for the Coalition Party Room.”
Does this lead you to believe that the Marriage Act is a solid piece of legislation which has remained intact and unchanged since 1961? Were you aware that almost 10 years ago a change was made to this Marriage Act? It was called the Marriage Amendment Act 2004. Here is the amendment that was inserted into the Marriage Act:
“Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
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”
Prior to this amendment there was no mention of the union being between a man and a woman only. So clearly the definition of Marriage can easily be changed in Australia – it was done deliberately and with little media attention 10 years ago.
There are two very important elements in the excerpt below from an article dated May 27 2004 which remain relevant today.
“As far as the other measures are concerned, the government takes the view that not only is it a statement of its attitude towards marriage but it’s also a necessary assertion by the parliament of the country above all others to define what is regarded in our community what is a marriage.”
What does this actually say? Firstly, that it is the responsibility of the parliament to define marriage not any other interested party such as a church and secondly, more importantly that it is their responsibility to define what is regarded by the community as marriage. Not the government’s opinion but reflect the community sentiment. Why is this relevant? Recent polls show 64% of Australians support Marriage Equality.