Civil law versus God’s law – in the end, it’s humans that “count”

For same-sex marriage: Whether you are pro- or anti- civil rights, we all have a voice and deserve to have our opinion tallied
Photo courtesy Augusta Margaret River Times

“Considering there have been no “civil” arguments opposing marriage equality presented so far, I am optimistic that it’s not a matter of “if” same-sex marriage will be legalised in Australia, but “when”!”

(My reply to the Augusta Margaret River Times on the issue of removing discriminatory phrasing from the Marriage Act.) 

Dear ed,

Thank you for publishing my open letter to Nola Marino, MP on the issue of taking a poll of sentiment on the constituent issue of gay marriage in Australia. Since the letter, I have received many supportive comments and several (heterosexual) marriage ceremony bookings from supporters of marriage equality in our region.

In the lively (and occasionally entertaining) debate that ensued, however, the original point of my letter has been lost.

Ms Marino, as an MP, is obliged by parliamentary motion to poll her constituents on the issue of gay marriage. To return to Canberra without a formal poll is denying us all a voice. Whether you are pro- or anti- gay marriage rights, we all deserve the opportunity to be counted and to have our opinion tallied.

I also wish to apologise to those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds, for not clarifying fully that we are talking about Australian law, not religious law. At no time did I suggest that Church law should be modernised – that is a matter for various denominational leaders to act upon. The purpose of this poll is to modernise Australia law – a matter for all civil-minded citizens and politicians to act upon. There is a difference.

Australian couples have two choices when they marry. The first is to marry in a religious ceremony, so that their marriage is recognised by that religion (and may also be recognised under the Australian Federal Law if the religious celebrant is also legally authorised). The second is to have their marriage solemnised in a civil marriage ceremony in the presence of a Civil Marriage Celebrant or at a Registry Office, in which case their marriage is authorised and recognised by Australian law. 

Only the latter group (which makes up 65% of all marriages in Australia) will be affected when the Marriage Act is updated to include marriage between two consenting adults. Churches will remain unaffected since the Act will continue to officially allow ministers of religion to refuse to solemnise any marriages for any reason or no reason at all. In other words, religious institutions may continue denying marriage rites/rights to same-sex couples without risk of a discrimination suit. 

Considering there have been no “civil” arguments opposing marriage equality presented so far, I am optimistic that it’s not a matter of “if” same-sex marriage will be legalised in Australia, but “when”! 

I and many other Australians look forward to the day when Australia can take its place alongside other progressive and tolerant jurisdictions such as Canada, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, South Africa and various American states, as a country proud to have a fully inclusive marriage regulation.

Parliament has spoken. Please Ms Marino, do your Parliamentary duty and take the required poll of the citizens of Forrest. Let us have our say on inclusion and equality of marriage rights.

~ Anita Revel, Civil Marriage Celebrant, Margaret River

And remember you can always find out what to know before disputing an insurance claim or civil arguments.

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