Why marriage equality matters

Greater inclusion and better health outcomes for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) Australians due to removal of legal discrimination and social stigma.

Greater legal security and stability for same-sex couples and their families.

A fairer and less discriminatory society.

A boost to marriage by reinforcing its basic values like love, commitment and family and keeping it relevant to contemporary society.

Improve Australia’s international reputation.

An economic injection for small businesses in the wedding industry.

What is the level of support in Australia?

72% of Australians support marriage equality

85% of young Australians (18-24 years of age) support marriage equality

54% of Australian Christians support marriage equality

57% of Coalition voters support marriage equality

*Percentages from Crosby Textor and Galaxy research

Where is same-sex marriage already legal?

Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, England, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Guam, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico City (and 11 states of Mexico), the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Pitcairn Island, Saint Helena, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United States of America, Uruguay, and Wales.

Australia is the only developed English-speaking country, and one of the few western countries, without marriage equality.

Why are we having a postal ballot?

Exactly. We believe that the postal ballot is unnecessary, expensive ($122 million) and divisive. The majority of Australians support marriage equality, as do the majority of the parliamentarians we’ve elected to make these decisions. We could have marriage equality tomorrow if the Government would allow a free vote in Parliament. However, if the postal ballot must go ahead, we will campaign passionately, tirelessly and respectfully to encourage Australians to participate and to vote ‘yes’ for marriage equality.

Who supports marriage equality?

  • Will Hodgman, Premier of Tasmania
  • Jeremy Rockliff, Deputy Premier of Tasmania
  • Rebecca White, Opposition Leader, Tasmania
  • Cassie O’Connor, Greens Leader, Tasmania
  • David Foster, World Champion axeman
  • The AFL, NRL and Football Federation
  • The Tasmanian Small Business Association
  • Unions Tasmania
  • The Australian Medical Association
  • Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten
  • All state and territory leaders
  • Most major businesses including the four major banks

Isn’t marriage a religious institution?

In Australian law, marriage is a civil institution. Men and women get married even if they are of different faiths or practice no faith. The majority (70%) of marriages in Australia are conducted by a civil celebrant rather than a religious official. Polls show the majority of Australian Christians support marriage equality. Churches that oppose marriage equality will not be forced to solemnise these marriages. However, churches that currently solemnise same-sex marriages will be able to have those marriages legally recognised.

What about the children? Isn’t marriage about having kids?

Marriage is about affirming loving committed relationships and many people who are married today do not have children. Marriage is not only about having children. Men and women are getting married even when they cannot, or chose not to, have children. Many same-sex couples are raising children. Peer reviewed studies show the children raised by same-sex couples have the same levels of social, sexual and emotional adjustment as other children. Overseas studies show these children benefit if their parents’ relationship is equally recognised and respected.

Won’t marriage equality lead to polygamy, incest or marriage between people and their pets?

No. None of these things has happened in any of the places with marriage equality. Marriage is a legal contract, and animals and inanimate things cannot sign legal contracts. Marriage equality is about recognising that the love and commitment in same-sex relationships is as strong, important and committed as in heterosexual relationships.

Marriage has always been between ‘a man and a woman’. Why should we change the definition of marriage?

Marriage equality is not about changing the definition of marriage, it’s about expanding the current definition to embrace those who have been excluded. Marriage law has been changed by Australian Parliaments several times in the past, to remove discrimination against women, Aboriginal people, mixed race couples. Marriage equality is about removing the last vestiges of discrimination from marriage law.

Will marriage equality infringe freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

No. Ministers of religion will be free to refuse to marry same-sex couples, just as they are currently free to refuse to marry heterosexual couples outside their faith. In all other situations, including providing non-religious services for a wedding, or debating marriage equality, current anti-discrimination laws will prevail. These laws strike a balance between preventing unfair treatment and protecting religious freedom.

Will marriage equality mean we can’t use terms like husband and wife, mother and father?

No. These terms will continue to be used in the law and in everyday language because they have deep cultural relevance. Many same-sex partners want to marry and have families because they want to share the valuable traditions associated with the institution of marriage. This includes the way marriage reinforces bonds between families and between generations. The last thing these couples want to do is undermine the important traditions they want to be part of.

Aren’t current laws sufficient?

No. Same-sex couples are recognised as de facto partners in all laws that grant spousal rights. They can have civil unions in most states. But this is not a substitute for the equality and recognition that comes with marriage. There are many cases where the existing legal rights of same-sex couples in de facto relationships or civil unions have not been recognised because these legal unions are not as widely understood or respected as marriage.

Will marriage equality change what children are taught in school?

No. Marriage reform is about one thing only: legalising same-sex marriage. It has nothing to do with education policy or the curriculum. It will not change how or what children are taught in schools.

Marriage equality will be good for children of same-sex parents, including many who are going to school now. Research done overseas shows that these children benefit if their parents are not discriminated against and if their relationship is equally recognised and respected.

In Tasmania, there is tri-partisan support for professional development to provide teachers with the skills and confidence they need to deal with prejudice and bullying in the classroom on the basis of sexuality or gender. This does not involve any kind of sex education.

Surely we have more important and urgent issues for our government to be dealing with

Marriage equality is important to LGBTI people and their families and friends, but there are many other issues Australia should be dealing with as well, including housing affordability, electricity prices and taxation reform. These issues are important to LGBTI people too. The LGBTI community wants a vote in Parliament as soon as possible so the issue can be dealt with and the nation can move on to deal with others issues.

Isn’t this a slippery slope to undermining all that we feel is important about our Christian heritage?

No. The majority of Australian Christians support marriage equality not despite being Christians but because of it. They believe in the golden rule that we should treat others as we want them to treat us. They also believe in extending the values of marriage to all couples and families. Marriage equality will confirm our Christian heritage rather than diminish it.

Is this a broader insidious attack on the very soul of Australia as the Australian Christian Lobby claim?

No. Marriage equality is about Australian values. These include a fair go for all, not interfering in the lives of others and equal treatment for everyone. When Australia achieves marriage equality it will make us more Australian, not less.

Do Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws prevent people from speaking freely against marriage equality?

No. We believe that the debate about marriage equality should be and can be civil, calm and free from hateful language. We encourage those that support marriage equality to respect the views of others and to create opportunities for an open dialogue.

There are federal criminal laws that make it an offence to use a postal or telecommunications service to menace, harass or cause offence to a reasonable person. In addition, most states and territories have discrimination laws to deter hate speech and the incitement of hatred on the basis of religion and sexuality. Discussion about these laws is just a distraction from the real issue of discrimination, which is that a significant number of Australians are prohibited from marrying because of their sexuality.