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02 February 2008

Civil partnerships for gay and lesbian Australians

After a quick holiday - almost a month I guess - let's get going again. I'm feeling refreshed and highly opinionated - and raring to blog!

I've got lots to say... "Wow - yay!" to the anti-whaling movement. "Oh my god!" to the paid-maternity discussion. (You know that we're the only OECD country other than America not to have paid maternity, don't you?)

But first - a small disappointment.

I started my special list of "Things that make me happy" in this blog, some time ago - but it wouldn't be right to only list the positives. Let it not be said that I won't see the negatives in Rudd's rules. I have always supported Kevin's attempts to keep the people happy, in the name of politics - if it means taking power and using it to slowly guide our country back towards the liberalism, openness and fairness that we all deserve. But this time, I feel, his actions are not directed by politics or by the dictates of liberalism and fairness - they're formed in religious bigotry.

Yes, that's right - it's not all sunshine and roses in the new Labor-governed Australia. Even Kevin with his left-wing religious leanings can disappoint sometimes.

Of course, we'd all rather liberal religious attitudes to Liberal religious attitudes... but even lefty-pinko Christian politicians, it turns out, draw the line a pink civil partnerships.

For those of you who want to know the details - the ACT Government wants to introduce legislation allowing gay couples to enter into civil partnerships and have an official ceremony. The Territory's first attempt to pass similar legislation was quashed by the former Federal Government and the new Government has raised concerns about some aspects of the proposal.

For details of the previous bill - see the a.c.t. legislation register.

Of course I would like to see what the government's "concerns" are - but it doesn't sound like the language of a government who wants to find a solution, and change a few details - it sounds like the language of a government who wants to squash the legislation.

That's a guess - and hopefully I'm wrong - but Kevin has made his position on civil partnerships clear before. Let's be clear on this - this isn't a broken promise - this isn't something surprising or contradictory with Kevin's stated position... it's just a shame. It's the first time I can honestly say I the new government hasn't gone far enough in reversing the Howard governments position of social conservativism and divisiveness.

More than 100 people rallied outside the Legislative Assembly this afternoon in support of the planned new laws. The ACT's Attorney General Simon Corbell told the crowd the issue is as much about recognising gay relationships as it is about self-government. "As a community, we should be able to decide these things for ourselves," he said.

That may be so (as the federalism debate continues under the new government) - but the question remains as to whether the rest of Australia would also like to see the introduction of civil partnerships for gay and lesbian relationships. Does the federal government actually have a "mandate" to try and direct the ACT government in its law making? Of course, I realise that some of Australia's population won't be in support of these ideas - but is it at all clear that a representative government actually has enough support from the negative side to use its power to sway this debate?

I propose having a poll. On this page (and on all my blog pages) you should be able to find a poll, on the right-hand side that I have designed. It is designed, I hope, to allow everyone to have their say and make their position on the topic clear.

If I get enough respondents, I will forward the results to Kevin's office and to the minister in charge of the issue (as well as the appropriate ACT government members - for use in their assessment of the situation)*. If you believe strongly in this topic please forward a link to this page to as many people as you can.

If you think I've left an option off the list of possible answers, please feel free to say so in the comments on this page. I will try to incorporate your ideas and combine the results of all versions of the poll, if I end up changing the options later.

Let's show them what modern Australia really thinks on this issue.

* and with Kevin's recent creation of an office to read petitions - we actually have a chance of having it listened to :-) More about that later.


purdy said...

My partner and I entered into our civil partnership in 2006 here in the uk, for some reason I automatically thought that when civil partnerships were legalised in the UK I thought they must be in Australia as well? It was to my horror, shock and total disgust that I found out that was not the case. I must say I was and still am utterly ashamed now of the country I grew up in and spent 30 years of my life in, any decision to come back to Australia now with my legal partner is with very mixed feelings. Even Spain a country full of catholics has managed to behave fairly and decently. The new Labour government, if it doesn't pass this bill, should take a good long hard look at itself and then stop disguising itself under the name of LABOUR! Come on Aussies, what does our national athem say, " Advance Australia Fair!!??

Macca said...

I believe the Australian Government needs to wake up. Instead of wasting tax payer money on funding opinion polls and weighing up if this will be a popular decision or not, they need to right a wrong.
The current legislation goes against basic human rights, and our unofficial Aussie motto of "a fair go for all."
Interesting that if you are in a homosexual relationship and you go to centrelink, your relationship will be recognised. And on Australian passport applications it specifically states your partner can not endorse your photo ID, yet if your partner is lying near death in a hospital bed suddenly your relationship status means nothing.
I plan on wedding my partner regardless of the government recognising it or not,however my problems with this whole issue are how ridiculous it is that I need to carry a power of attorney slip in my wallet in case of an accident, and I apparently need a statutory declaration stating how long we have been intimate for because it could be the difference in my partner obtaining my supperannuation if something happens to me.
Im not interested in getting married in a church and supposedly incriminating the "sanctimony of marriage" all I want is some recognition so that I can do the same basic things with my partner that people in a heterosexual relationship can do.

Nicholas Gledhill said...

I agree macca.

This *is* a matter of right and wrong - and Kevin's attempts to squash the ACT government's law is wrong.

BUT - my point is this...

The ACT government decided to introduce civil ceremonies because:

1. They believe they have a mandate, and;

2. They believe it's right thing to do.

The Rudd government has decided to fight against the ACT government's decision because:

1. They believe it has a mandate, and;

2. They believe it's right thing to do.

I am simply trying to get evidence against belief 2 of the Rudd government.

I hope you voted :-)

And please send a link to this page to anyone you think might be interested in voting.