The Victorian Greens are calling for public submissions ahead of their introduction of a bill supporting Same-Sex Marriage. They are seeking views on the issue in general, on how the law should be framed, and issues such as the legal status and rights granted through marriage; how the laws would apply to interstate residents; the rights of religious celebrants to choose not to conduct a same-sex marriage; and how any new laws would interact with Victoria’s current Relationship Register.
Please submit your views to email@example.com at Sue Pennicuik MLC’s office or call (03) 9530 8399.
For those of you who are interested, here’s my submission:
I saw in the Star Observer that the Victorian Greens are calling for public views on Same-Sex Marriage and I would like to give you mine.
Same-Sex Marriage should happen.
I believe that we may need a new word for ‘marriage’ in general as it currently has two meanings: under civil law and as a religious practice (largely Christian practice). Homophobic and oppressive Christian political groups often insist that the religious practice of marriage be enshrined in law—as that between one man and one woman. This is not only homophobic, but also runs contrary to the ideal of religious pluralism that our secular society supposedly values. Same sex marriage is recognised and practiced amongst those of the Pagan and Neo-Pagan faiths as well as in many indigenous tribal cultures, such as the American Indians. For a secular, non-religious government to insist that the civil rights of two people coming together to live their lives as a couple must be defined under the non-secular, religious and frankly, bigoted view of a religious minority is an unjust denial of civil liberties and a disservice to the multi-cultural society that supposedly embraces religious pluralism.
As such what we need is a recognition that the secular rights and responsibilities of two people coming together as a couple are distinct from any religious influence or preconceptions and should be enshrined in law as dictated by peoples of conscience, tolerance and in the spirit of fairness. These laws should be non-gender specific and be the only legal standpoint for couples whether gay, straight, trans or any other identification I may have missed. This law should ensure that such a union is a secular joining, much in the way that the only legal part of a marriage ceremony is the signing of the marriage registry.
This would make the religious ceremony of marriage a purely internal religious affair, and religions should be free to decide who they will or will not extend that ceremony to—so a conservative Christian church should not be legally obligated to marry two men or two women if that is their viewpoint. However, under the separation of church and state, they should have a legal obligation to stay out of politics and not interfere with the secular practices of those outside of their faith—however, that may be an entirely different battle and piece of legislation.
On a personal note, I am not in a position where marriage is a consideration for me at the moment, but I hope that one day I will be and when I am in that position, I would hope that the secular government will recognise my relationship as equally as it recognises that of my heterosexual friends, free of the hatred and injustice that is too often being spouted by the religious minority.
Thank you and The Greens for taking the time to call for community views and for reading my submission.
In other news, here’s an awesome video of Illinois Senator Ricky Hendon speaking during debate on the recently passed Illinois Civil Union bill.