Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The Government Administration Committee has reported back on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. While they recommend that it be passed, they also recommend the insertion of a bigot amendment, clarifying that religious celebrants can continue to unlawfully discriminate on the basis of their personal religious views when exercising the state power to solemnise a marriage. This is far narrower than similar US amendments (which basically add an "except for faggots" clause to anti-discrimination law, allowing discrimination in the provision of housing as well as the solemnisation of marriages), and in practice the issue is never likely to come up (because who wants their marriage solemnised by a person who doesn't want to do it?), but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The purpose of this bill is to eliminate such discrimination. Instead, its now writing it into statute. It won't stop me from continuing to support the bill, because like Civil Unions its a positive (if imperfect) step forward. But it does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

(OTOH, in ten years time, when the bigots are well and truly in the minority, we can put up a bill to repeal this clause, limit religious body celebrants to solemnising marriages amongst their own cults, or eliminate them entirely. If religious groups won't do marriage according to state principles of neutrality and non-discrimination, they have no business doing it, EOFS).

On the plus side, they are recommending the repeal of the odious section 56, which makes it an offence to impugn the validity of a marriage or assert that someone is "illegitimate" (a word I thought belonged only in medieval histories). Obviously its being done so the bigots can sneer at same-sex couples who aren't "truly" married (fuck, I've seen Catholics do that about non-Catholics), but the law was an affront to freedom of speech and had to go.

The bill will be back before the House for its second reading on March 13, and if all goes well will pass its third reading a month later.