Last night I got home from a solid workout at the gym, cooked myself a healthy dinner and sat down to read my emails. First cab off the ranks was a story in the Port Phillip Leader: Call for Port Phillip same-sex register. The story is about City of Port Phillip council candidate, Peter de Groot, campaigning in the Sandridge Ward, on the promise of a establishing a relationships register for same-sex couples if elected.
I would have thought this story more appropriate for the April 1 edition, but the date on the story is October 23 2012. You see, under the Relationships Act 2008 the Victorian government established a state-wide, legal relationships register, managed by the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Read the history of this here.
I don’t see any benefit a new council-based relationships register could offer that a long established state-based relationships register doesn’t already offer. Council relationship registers don’t even confer formal legal relationship status per se.
To that end, campaigning on a platform that contains a well-intentioned but effectively useless promise smacks of a naive grab for the pink vote at best. If I was a voter in the Sandridge Ward, I’d be very cautious about voting for a candidate whose campaign platform included such empty election promises.
Rather than campaign on something useless like a council-based relationships register, a better way to spend rate-payers money would be on causes that actually benefit the community. Consider a safe space for queer youth, a support group for same-sex parents, an anti-homophobia/anti-transphobia campaign for the local community, a social group or friendly home visiting service for elderly, disabled or isolated GLBTIQ people, a queer orphans Christmas gathering, and so on.
Peter de Groot may well be a passionate human rights advocate, as his campaign page describes, but I would hope voters put the honesty, ethics, credibility and integrity of a candidate before their sexual orientation or demographic affiliation.