Good morning Australia,
The journey continues with letter number eight, and there has been a brilliant response from people. Eight days in, I am wondering when I’ll get my first response from Mr Turnbull, if any. I’ve written to the Prime Minister before and have never received a response, but there are a few things about this project that make it different: it is not just my view, it represent the views of many Australians; and this matter has reached a point where it cannot be ignored, it is time for action. Even though what I’m doing is quite small, I hope that it will have an impact and help us achieve equality.
Today’s submission is from Karly Hillas, a law student and committed ally to the LGBTI community. Karly raises an argument that I didn’t even think to look at, the process followed to pass the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004. A bill, that the government itself describes as being done in “haste”.
Thank you Karly for adding you voice. Having people share this with me, makes me feel just a little less crazy and less like I’m yelling into the ether.
I am on the road a lot next week, so I’m hoping to be able to schedule submission right through to the end of next week. I’ve filled until Monday, but need another five submissions to get me to Saturday, make your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and take care,
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600
22 November 2016
#DearPM: Marriage Equality (8 of 30)
To the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP,
One of the big challenges that many in the LGBTI community face is that while we advocate for our rights in the law, we are not always able to get down to understanding the legal history of the matter of equal access to marriage in Australia.
Luckily today’s submission is from Karly Hillas, a law student and ally to the LGBTI community. Karly highlights the catalyst that led to the Marriage Act amendment in 2004; people seeking equal rights recognition resulted in the government hastily changing of the law.
Karly makes a passionate and well-reasoned argument that we can all agree makes it clear that there should be a free vote on marriage equality, now.
Dear Prime Minister,
While doing some research on why the Marriage Act was amended in 2004 I read the following on the Parliament of Australia website:
“Marriage Amendment Bill 2004
This Bill has the following purposes:
- To formally define marriage in the Marriage Act 1961, and
- To ensure that same sex marriages are not recognised as marriage in Australia, inclusive of those performed under the laws of another country that permits such unions.
The Governments haste to have the current Bill passed appears to be linked to two applications filed in court to have same sex marriages performed within the laws of another country recognised under Australian law.
This Bill amends the Marriage Act 1961 to prevent the recognition of same-sex marriages in Australia, even where the marriage has been performed under the laws of another country which does recognise this type of union.
In addition the Government has also indicated that the need for Parliament to give its immediate attention to the current Bill is related to expressions of significant community concern about the possible erosion of the institution of marriage. It is the Attorney-General’s opinion that Parliaments quick action is needed to address these community concerns.”
OK – I get it.
The government freaked out in 2004 because it was not ready for potential ramifications which may be caused from the court applications.
I’m not going to judge the government on past actions. However, I am going to judge you now.
Australia as a nation has come a long way over the past few years. The world has changed.
I argue that since 2004 we have had a lot of time to digest exactly what marriage equality means and how this will affect us as a nation – and you know what? We are ready.
We are sooooo ready. We have spoken, tweeted, protested, debated, argued, facebooked, discussed, marched and shouted from the rooftops the fact that we are ready.
And do you know what the only thing preventing marriage equality is?
YOU Mr Prime Minister. Yes YOU!
I echo the above opinion from the Attorney-General “Parliaments quick action is needed to address these community concerns.”
So Mr Prime Minister – what are you going to do about it?
Karly Hillas, Victoria
Karly echoes the words of the then Attorney-General back in 2004 “Parliaments quick action is needed to address these community concerns.” With that in mind:
- What advice does the current Attorney-General have regarding the process followed in passing the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004, and why has the AG recommended a different process in order to legislate for marriage equality?
This is my eighth letter in a series calling for a free vote on marriage equality in the parliament, and in your current term. A free vote is the correct way to legislate for marriage equality. You could allow this to happen today.