State-Based Marriage Isn’t Marriage At All

“I’m getting married in the morning” ic ny Anna BC Mom

The dovecotes have been all a-flutter over a report from the NSW parliament that says the states can legislate for same sex marriage.

But that doesn’t mean it’ll be legal.

Confused? Let me help you. Yes, the state parliaments could pass a bill to allow a man to marry a man, or a woman, a woman.

This would then be challenged in the High Court, where it would be argued that, since John Howard changed the Marriage Act to say ‘one man and one woman’, federal law has left open the door for state-based acts that say one man and one man, or one woman and one woman.

Frankly, any judge with half a brain – and some really do have that much, and occasionally, more – will have a jolly good laugh before kindly telling the state legislators to run away and play. State marriage is one of those too-clever-by-half, nice-try-Mr-Rumpole kind of bone-brained ideas that might make a good plot for a half hour comedy, but that’s about it.

For this multi-storey bacon factory to fly, the judges would have to reinterpret the Marriage Act in a spirit directly contrary to both the original act and the Howard amendment. Not going to happen. And nor should it.

Marriage is a federal matter, and should remain so.

Why? Because for this to work, the state bills have to be tweaked to make sure they don’t impinge on the federal law by suggesting that any kind of woman might marry any kind of man. At which point it’s trangender folk overboard. Likewise, people whose gender cannot be determined are also excluded. Now intersex folk are in the water too.

I thought Australians weren’t supposed to leave people behind?

There’s another good reason this idea is a dud. Remember all those snidey bitchy slogans about “It’s not Gay Marriage, it’s Marriage. I don’t drive a gay car, do my gay tax return and wash my gay socks, and I don’t want to get gay married – I just want to get married.” ?

Well that’s exactly what this cardboard cutout marriage-mimicking confabulation is. Not only is it not marriage, it’s not even “gay marriage”. It’s “New South Welsh Only Same-Sex Only Marriage”. And “Tasmanian Only Same-Sex Only Marriage.” Etc.

Meaningless outside it’s home state, it gains us precisely nothing in practical terms except the now hollowed-out, meaning-free word “marriage.” Look close and you’ll see it’s just a civil union in a tux and bridal gown.

Yes folks, if these bills get up, we really will have done what we keep being accused of. We will have redefined marriage.

I don’t want a redefined marriage. I want the same one everyone else has, thanks.

NSW parliamentary committee report.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)