State Marriage: Last Hope For People Running Out Of Time

rodney-croome4lrgSo much of the debate about state same-sex marriages is about laws, governments, courts and the Constitution.

But like marriage equality generally, state same-sex marriage laws are really about people.

They are about people who can’t wait for federal reform because they or their loved ones are ageing.

I think of Nick Outterside who pleaded with Tasmanian Upper House members last year, asking them to allow his mothers to be united before they were parted forever by one of his mum’s terminal cancer.

It’s too late for Nick’s mums now, but it’s not too late for thousands of other Australian families to be bound more closely together by marriage before death divides them.

State laws are also about people wearied by the slow pace of reform at a national level and who need to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I think of Sarah who has been advocating for equality for years.

I’ve seen the enthusiasm in her eyes grow dim from hearing too many poor excuses from too many indifferent politicians.

Recently she bowed out altogether.

Sarah is one of many same-sex attracted people who have been wearied and pained by a debate that drags on while other countries leave us far behind.

As you read this, how many more LGBTI folk are “bowing out” because they see no hope?

State laws are important because they provide this hope.

They are important for other reasons too.

They will allow same-sex couples the legal certainty and social affirmation that comes with marriage.

They will provide equality by allowing same-sex couples to make the same legally-binding vows of lifelong commitment as heterosexuals.

They may even be the route to equality across the nation.

There’s no certainty the Commonwealth has the constitutional power to legislate for same-sex marriages.

It’s power to pass nationally-consistent legislation may actually end up coming from the states referring their powers.

But there I go, talking about laws, governments and the Constitution.

No-one cares about the details of the law under which they marry – who passed it, where it applies, how it is framed.

That only care that they can marry.

The possibility we may soon have state laws for same-sex marriages is reason enough to support such laws.

They will replenish the optimism of the millions of Australians who passionately support marriage equality.

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Not everyone is in favour of state and territory marriage laws. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has initiated moves to strike down equal marriage legislation recently introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly, which is expected to pass easily. . Australian Marriage Equality is running a petition asking the federal government not to interfere in the ACT: please sign the petition here. 

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