Draft AME newsletter
Newsletter, February 2009
A message from the convenor
Australian Marriage Equality begins 2009 with a renewed commitment to full legal equality for same-sex couples.
The National Organising Committee has developed a comprehensive lobbying, advocacy and fundraising strategy which will increase the already-high levels of public support for same-sex marriage and galvanise this support into a movement our political leaders will no longer be able to ignore.
Part of AME’s renewed commitment is to ensure our members and supporters are fully informed about important steps towards marriage equality here and overseas, as well as AME’s activities.
Beginning with this edition, we will be producing regular monthly newsletters to keep you informed, in touch and involved.
To ensure you keep receiving our newsletters, and other AME publications, please join AME, or renew your membership, by visiting our website.
While you’re there, please consider becoming a financial sponsor of AME. We have established a sponsorship scheme to help us achieve the goals we have set ourselves for 2009. For just a small regular donation of $20 a month you can help make marriage equality a reality.
~ Sydney rally hears new voices for change
New voices against marriage discrimination were raised at an equal marriage rally held on International Human Rights Day in Newtown, Sydney at the end of last year.
At the rally of about 100 people organised by Community Action Against Homophobia, Aboriginal Rights Coalition spokesperson, Pat Eatock and newly-crowned Mr Gay Australia Ben Edwards spoke about the importance of removing all legal discrimination against same-sex couples.
For more new voices for equality see below
~ Qld poll shows majority support full equality
An opinion poll conducted by Galaxy polling and released in late January by Action, Reform, Change Queensland, shows that 53% of voters in the Sunshine State support marriage equality.
This is only slightly less than the 57% recorded by Galaxy in a national poll released in June last year, despite the fact that an Australia Institute poll released in 2005 showed Queensland to be the second most homophobic Australian state.
It is also not much less than the 60% support for civil unions recorded in the Queensland poll. This helps explode the myth that there is substantially more support for civil unions than for equal marriage.
The Queensland poll is the first state-based poll on equal marriage in Australia. AME hopes to work closely with other groups to encourage similar polling in other states.
For the full poll result visit here.
On May 1st, this year Sweden will become the seventh country in the world to allow same-sex marriages. Since 1995 Sweden has allowed same-sex couples to obtain marital rights by registering a civil union, but this separate system has been described by legislators as “outdated”. The new law will be the first in the world to allow churches to conduct same-sex marriages. A majority of the country’s religious ministers support the move.
A Scottish parliamentary committee will consider a petition to convert UK civil partnerships registered in Scotland into marriages if the partners wish. The petition also calls for same-sex marriages to be solemnised by minister of religion, if their religions allow it.
The start of 2009 has seen AME advocating and lobbying strongly for marriage equality.
~ Proving our point
On January 1st Federal Government laws granting entitlements to same-sex de facto partners began to take effect. As the story of Edward Young shows, these reforms will have a positive impact, but only if partners are able to prove they are in a relationship. AME was quick to point out that allowing same-sex marriage would solve this problem. One of the practical consequences of having a marriage certificate is that it puts your relationship status beyond doubt.
~ Popular support
The Federal Government continues to claim that its opposition to marriage equality "reflects the widely held view in the community that marriage is between a man and a woman".
AME has responded by writing to the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, challenging his Government to support marriage equality if it can be shown that a majority of Australians support reform. Thanks to polls like those cited above, we are confident we can.
In our correspondence to Mr McClelland, AME has also challenged Mr McClelland to explain what status overseas same-sex marriages will have in proving the existence of a de facto relationship under the new same-sex laws, why Australian citizens are denied the documents they require to marry their same-sex partners overseas, why same-sex partners can marry in Australia if they have sex changes, and if the restrictions on marriage celebrants speaking out about marriage discrimination will be eased.
~ Down for the count
One of the AME’s successes has been to lobby the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to count same-sex marriages in the national Census. “Lobby” is the operative word, given that it took a sit-in at the ABS office in Sydney by national convenor Peter Furness and his husband Theo Phillips, to achieve recognition.
The challenge now is to encourage the ABS to publish statistics on same-sex marriages as “a standard output” accessible to everyone. AME representatives will meet the ABS to discuss this in the coming weeks.
Be an AME sponsor
As mentioned in the National Convenor’s report, AME has a new strategic vision of how we can advance the issue of equal marriage in 2009/10.
This includes lobbying key decision-makers, galvanising support in the corporate and community sector, and expanding public awareness of the need for equality in marriage. However, this work requires a sustainable and reliable funding base.
It is our aim to raise $10,000 annually through small regular donations of $20 per month from 40 to 50 people such as yourselves. In return for your generosity, you will receive special bulletins detailing how your donations are being spent to advance marriage equality, and special mention on our website as an AME supporter (should you wish).
Contributing to AME is easy. Please visit our website www.australianmarriageequality.com and click on the link “Become a Regular Donor”.
If you know of any others who may also be interested in becoming financial sponsors of Australian Marriage Equality, please let them know about our sponsorship scheme.
Voices for equality
Since August last year several Australian public figures have affirmed their support for marriage equality, some for the first time. He’s what they said,
Kevin Rudd’s opinion of marriage as something that’s only between a man and a woman is quite narrow-minded. During the election campaign he was all about appearing young and cool, but his views on gay marriage make him look quite old-fashioned.
- Matthew Mitcham, Australian Olympic gold medalist, to SX News, 1.7.08
I look forward to a time when we have removed at a federal level all discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexuality. A time when my partner isn’t denied a passport because his gender’s not recognised under our laws, when my friends’ children all enjoy the same rights and protections under Commonwealth law, regardless of whether their parents are straight or gay, and a time when my gay and lesbian friends who wish to be legally married can be.
- Senator Louise Pratt, inaugural speech to the Australian Senate, 27.8.08
I support same-sex marriage, I have for many, many years. I believe that a civilised society is a society that is inclusive and is a society that affords the same human rights, the same access to justice, the same equality under the law for every single one of its citizens.
- Hon Bronwyn Pike MLA, Victorian Minister for Education, Equal Love Rally, Melbourne, 3.8.08
Formal recognition of same-sex relationships has emerged as the civil rights issue of the first decade of the 21st century. A Sydney lesbian artist, Deborah Kelly, who is putting the final touches to a Big Butch Billboard float for this year Mardi Gras that will scare conservatives, put to me crisply the other day the question she sometimes asks (presumably white) heterosexual couples: Would you still want to get married if people were prohibited from marriage because they are black? Australia, in its failure under John Howard and now Kevin Rudd to grant same-sex marriage, is a civil rights throwback. But the wind of change is unstoppable…
- Steve Dow, journalist and columnist, The Age, 26.1.09
With other reforms has come a growing irritation with the continued exclusion of the gay community from entitlement to marriage. It is true that some still have no interest in actually entering into a marriage, but developments abroad coupled with a growing discontent with the discrimination involved has brought much greater pressure for a right to marry.
- Hon Alastair Nicholson, fmr Chief Justice of the Family Court, Curtin University, Perth, 21.10.09
The (principle of marriage equality) has been addressed by the highest courts in New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and States of the United States. Acknowledging the right of religions to do as they please in their own spaces, upon what principle is a legal civil status allowed to some citizens but denied to others. In a secular nation how can such a denial be justified, except by history or religion? History alone is not a good enough explanation. Miscegenation laws until 1967 denied marriage to people of different races in parts of the United States. The Nuremburg laws in Germany denied marriage between Aryans and Jews..… we have not seen the end of this debate in Australia. Nor, to paraphrase Churchill, have we seen the beginning of the end. But we are in the midst of the end of the beginning. The direction of history, at least in countries like our own, seems to be in favour of the abiding principle of the equality of citizens of all ages, races, colours, creeds and sexualities.
- Hon Michael Kirby, fmr Justice of the High Court, Inaugural John Marsden Lecture, Sydney, 15.10.08
Vale Iain Clacher
On January 9 Australia lost one of its strongest and most eloquent advocates for marriage equality.
Renowned Queensland gay journalist, Iain Clacher, died in his Brisbane home aged only 44.
In the words of AME convenor, Peter Furness,
In 2004, when some other LGBT community leaders wavered about the importance of equal marriage, Iain was unflinchingly committed to seeing the law fully respect and protect our relationships. His contribution to the formation of AME enabled us to become a truly national organisation.
Later, Iain responded to mainstream media indifference to equal marriage by ensuring that LGBT community protests and actions in favour of marriage equality were always reported.
For example, Iain was the first to report on the stand taken by Elaine Crump and Sharon Dane to have the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages register their intent to marry.
As well as being an excellent journalist, Iain was one of the consciences of our community and we will all miss him very much.
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