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House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs

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Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012

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Summary of responses

The survey closed at midnight on Friday 20 April.

Please note that the online survey is not a statistically significant survey. There is an insignificant rate of duplication (duplicate email address, multiple responses from the same IP address, invalid email addresses) of approximately 4.4% (3.6% for ‘agree’ responses and 0.8% for ‘disagree’ responses).

The final responses are as follows.




      Not sure


The law should be changed to legalise same sex marriages in Australia

177 663

98 164


276 437

Authorised celebrants, being ministers of religion, should not be obliged to perform same sex marriages. (Note: authorised celebrants, being ministers of religion, are not currently obliged to perform any marriage)

214 399

37 252

24 786

276 437

Same sex marriages performed in foreign countries should be recognised in Australia

177 035

94 449


276 437




                   Don’t support

Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 (Mr Bandt)



Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 (Mr Jones)



On the online survey, 213 524 people provided comments on the reasons for their answers, and 86 991 people provided comments on the legal implications of the bills. A selection of these comments will be published here shortly.

In addition to the survey, comments on the bills have also been received from 2 353 people by email and post.

A small selection of these comments is provided below:

It is in our society ’s best interests to foster and support loving, committed relationships.

Human relationships are not determined by sex or biology, but by the quality of the love, trust and care between the participants and their commitment to each other.

I believe that marriage, as an institution in Australia, is about recognising couples’ relationships in the eyes of the state, society, friends and family.

One of the primary reasons for the development of the institution of marriage was to ensure social and economic security by applying formal recognition and thus mutual responsibilities to relationships.

Marriage is a social contract between two adults. In our society it isn’t just a religious contract, with it comes duties, obligations, and benefits between the two parties. Our laws recognise the unique nature of this status and bestow special conditions on this relationship.

Legal and community recognition that a committed relationship between two people (whether opposite or same sex) is important to me. Relationships are important in our society as support for one another is required to live life.

In Australia marriage is the main way that we as a society recognise the importance of relationships.

Making a commitment to a relationship is important and marriage is one way of formalising that commitment.

Marriage is a special relationship between a man and a woman for the raising of children in an environment where both genders are represented. A different recognition of same sex couples seems more appropriate than redefining a relationship which has been the basis of our society for centuries.

In my opinion, marriage is the union between two parties that choose to spend the rest of their lives together.

Gay people are already forming life-long relationships and having children together. They are in all points of substance no different to straight couples. They (and their children) deserve the same legal recognition and protection that marriage provides to straight families.

Marriage is the fundamental basis of family, and thus of society.  Marriage allows children to have relationships with their biological parents, and for biological parents to have relationships with their children.

Marriage is a legal construct legally recognising a relationship between two people.  By any objective measure, a same-sex relationship has all the same qualities of an opposite-sex relationship. Some last, some do not. Some involve children, some do not.  To deny committed same-sex couples the rights, responsibilities, and recognition of Marriage is discriminatory and sends the message that they are second class citizens.

Marriage, insofar as it concerns the Australian government, is the civil institution created by the recognition of a relationship between two people, and any legal implications that recognition entails. The religious institution of marriage is related, but separate, to this civil institution. There is, therefore, no reason to exclude same-sex couples from legal recognition of their relationship on the basis of religious norms.

As a secular government, the Australian Parliament should recognise all lifetime commitments between couples regardless of religious prohibitions.

Marriage is an expression of commitment and security. It should not be restricted. All human beings have the right to equality before the law.

Symbolically we need to show that gay people are not excluded from our civic institutions (the religious institution of marriage is a matter for the respective religions but the legal and civic notion of marriage should apply to all).

Society is constantly changing, and it is time we started to act upon these changes, rather than dictating old traditions.

Marriage is about two people uniting before God and for legal recognition in the community, and I believe that if two people of the same sex want to commit themselves to each other for the rest of their lives, then they should have the same rights as everyone else.

At present, a large fraction of our society is excluded access to the legal rights and privileges of marriage.  This is morally wrong, socially destructive, and potentially devastating for those affected.

All consenting adults should have access to the institution of marriage, with the consenting adult of their choice. To only allow marriage between opposite sexes is discrimination based on sexual orientation, and thus is not equal rights.

Families with same-sex parents deserve the same social, legal and religious protections offered to them that other families have access to, something that only marriage equality can provide.

Recognising same-sex marriages is about saying that Australia recognises all types of families and relationships and does not discriminate based on sexual preference. This is how I want Australia to be viewed by others and how Australians should view each other.

Marriage is the foundation of a loving and stable relationship, and should be available to all Australians who wish to celebrate it.

I support the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 over the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 as the former is a more inclusive, complete version of the legislation. Discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation is prohibited in other acts, and should therefore be removed from the Marriage Act. The current situation of disallowing same sex marriage in a society where discrimination is prohibited is a case of everyone is equal, but some are less equal than others.

Our life is like that of many other Australian families. We enjoy planning (and going on) family holidays, we attend our local Catholic Church on Sundays. All-in-all we lead a pretty boring life. One thing that we would like to do, but can’t, is to marry. We want our children to grow up knowing that their parents have the same rights as everyone else. This is not a dangerous or radical proposition. After all, the desire to fall in love and grow old with someone is not restricted to heterosexuals.

Marriage has always meant the union of one man and one woman for life. This is the nucleus of family which is the foundation of our society. It is essential that the sanctity of this definition and this union is safeguarded now and into the future.

There are many different kinds of relationships in our society, each with their own purpose, and I believe we should honour traditional marriage for what it is.

Marriage is a sacred union between a man and woman. If homosexual people wish to have a union, it should be called something different.

Marriage is deeply valued by a large proportion of the population for cultural and religious reasons and this should be respected.

Marriage is a religious act not a legal act and therefore politics should not be making laws to influence any religion to change their beliefs.  Marriage by definition is the joining of a man and a woman into a holy union.

I believe that it is the best interest of Australian families if we used God’s standard as the guide for morality and not public opinion. We have seen how moving away from God’s standard has resulted in a decay of the family unit. I therefore do not support legalising gay marriage.

The definition of marriage being between a man and a wife cannot be amended to include same sex couples. If same sex marriage was to be legalised, society will break down.

I believe in the biblical definition of marriage, being for one man and one woman. I don’t think the definition of marriage can be, or should be expanded.

There will be ramifications for the way in which ‘marriage’ is viewed for heterosexual couples.

The definition of ‘marriage’ is the union of a man and a woman.  This doesn’t contain any ‘moral’ considerations, that’s just the definition of the word.  If you change the definition, that’s not the same word.

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and therefore the sanctity of this must be protected. As a society we need traditions and firm foundations to build on.

Marriage is an ancient convention that provides a formalised arrangement for a relationship of love and nurture with a primary goal of providing a healthy and stable environment for the raising of children.

Marriage is not simply a loving, committed relationship between two people, but a unique kind of physical and emotional union which is open to the possibility of new life. It is not a discrimination against homosexual couples to uphold marriage as being between a man and a woman. Marriage and same sex unions are essentially different realities.

Marriage has always meant the union of difference, leading to the issue and raising of children, and this does not naturally follow from a gay union. I oppose the redefining of marriage, as it will destroy the very nature of that relationship.

My partner & I have been together now for 17 years. As far as we, our family & friends are concerned, we are married. We both contribute to our local community & have careers in the private & government sectors. We pay tax & have a mortgage, too but the best we can be offered, as far as our relationship status is concerned, is ‘defacto’. It feels like a second rate concession when our contribution is first rate.

I have been with my boyfriend for 4 years and we love each other dearly. One day I would like to get married, but it is sad if my love is deemed inferior because of arbitrary reasons.

As a 23-year-old individual I have grown up with an acceptance that same-sex relationships are normal and legitimate in every sense. I honestly believe there is a large generational gap and by bringing in this legislation it will help to begin to reduce this.

I would like to support my daughter in her quest to marry, and have that marriage formally recognised with her long time partner. I have been married to my wife for more than thirty years.

if they pass, it’ll mean that my partner and i can finally get married, after 12 years. there’ll be a narrative and language that people can understand and get their heads around. our family will gradually become safer as society is led by legislation to understand that we should be treated equally.

I have been in a same sex relationship for 32 YEARS and cannot understand why after all these years there is still not recognized equality for persons in same sex relationships.

Changing the law to enable me to marry my same sex partner will mean that we will be able to seek equal treatment in our public lives. For example, my partner’s employer (UN) will recognise our 30 year relationship fully if our country recognises our marriage. This will include health care, leave and moving arrangements and superannuation.

My little sister is a lesbian. Ever since she told me, I never want to see my sister upset again if I can help her get through it. The thought of her not being able to get married is unjust and unconstitutional. Please stop this inequality and recognise that we are all people just trying to do the best we can in this world, with the little time we have. Please make it is easier for my sister to live in this society without inequality and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I am Australian. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a niece. I am a cousin. I am a friend. I am a university graduate. I am a teacher. I am a partner. I am in love. I am...not allowed to legally marry.  I want to watch my partner grow old and get wrinkles. I want to share my adventure called life with her. I want to experience together the overwhelming joy of childbirth and raise children in a loving family home. I want to walk down the aisle in a beautiful white dress just like every little girl dreams of.  I love being Australian. I love Australia. I am proud of where I come from and how fortunate we are. I would love if Australia felt the same way about me. I am no different from your own sister, daughter, niece, cousin or would you feel if the country they loved did not allow for them to get married? Let me help with that hurts.

As a gay woman who grew up dreaming of her big white dress wedding day it breaks my heart to be almost 30 and facing a future where I can not marry the love of my life as should be my right, as should be anyone’s right.

I am an 18 year old female and although my sexual orientation is different to others, I still grew up imagining myself walking down the aisle with the person I love. I still dream of that one, perfect day which I can share with my friends and family. The education system within Australia teaches us to be independent, strong and accepting yet why is the homosexual community discriminated and restricted by the current laws? I believe that everyone should have the right to marry anyone they wish to, and I believe that the government needs to take a step forward in their growth to legalise same sex marriage.

I have been married to the woman I love for 55 years and we are both Christians. We believe that same sex marriages should be permitted because they imply fidelity, love and happiness.

I have been married for forty-eight years, and can see no reason why any couple who wish to make such a commitment should not be able to do so.

I believe in equality. I have been married for 50 years and have 2 children so I have no personal axe to grind. Marriage is about love and commitment and doesn’t only apply to heterosexual people. Some people think that marriage is about children but lots of people get married without any intention of having children. And quite a lot of heterosexual people should never have children.

As a gay man, a Catholic man, a man from a cultural minority, and a registered psychologist - I know very well the implications of both sides of the debate.  It has been my experience that prevention of same-sex marriage, and lack of recognition of same-sex marriage performed in foreign countries, perpetuates gay people’s experience of segregation and discrimination. ANYTHING we can do as a community to send the message that we are equal goes some way to undo and prevent further damage.

My Experience growing up as a straight male in a highly Christian environment, both at school and at home has taught me that love is the greatest thing two people may share. Love is greater than gender and anyone should have the chance to express this in a way that is recognized by a country as Great as Australia.

I was raised in a Mormon (LDS) family and for a long time I believed I had the blueprint for life, happiness and could speak to the rules god had laid out for us. I came to realise that no one has a right to control another’s life so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. Beyond that I realised how self righteous I was to think I was better than someone else just because I happen to love to opposite sex. I’ve since formed amazing friendships with LGTBI people and those connections will last for life. I’ve met some of the most loving, sincere people who are now considered part of my family. They raise families and their children deserve the same rights as other kids - to have their parents marry if they want to and to know they are recognised as a family unit.

I believe that permitting same sex marriage in Australia will cause more harm than good. Giving 4000 gay couples in Australia happiness by allowing this bill to pass, does not outweigh the outrage that the religious and independent belief organisations will have. I myself believe that gay couples should be allowed to get married, but from a utilitarian point of view, this would cause more harm than good.    P.S i am 15 years old.

My wife and I have been married for 37 years this year and believe that marriage must be recognised as only between a man and a woman. This relationship is the best structure for the family unit and society.

We have been married for 51 years and have 4 children and 11 grand children. The proposed law changes would downgrade our marriage to the level of the union of 2 homosexuals.

I am strenuously opposed to same sex marriage as this notion goes against the laws of nature, traditional culture and religion. Having been married to my wife for 40 years, I find it repulsive and insulting that the people supporting this notion are trying to push this legislation through. If same sex couples wish to live together that is none of my business and I would not discriminate against them in any way. However, I feel that the people trying to legalise same sex marriage are trying to gate crash our sacred institution of marriage between a man and a woman.

I do not agree that a same sex union is an equivalent relationship to a marriage between a man and a woman. I have been married for nearly thirty years and raised five children to adulthood with my wife. I think maybe without intending this bill demeans the specialness of the relationship which has so defined my life by making it one of a number of ‘valid’ expressions of human relationship. Find other ways to deal with same sex and defacto relationships but don’t make them equivalent to marriage with the stroke of a pen.

I have been married for nearly 20 years now. I entered into marriage for life, to the woman I still love. Our wedding was conducted in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia witnessed by our family, friends and our God.  I do not want my marriage to stand for anything other than what we entered into 20 years ago. Please do not change the laws to make marriage something different for whom marriage works now.

Australian religious groups including Christians and indeed non-religious groups identify with the definition of marriage as relating to a male and female. They have the right to claim the maintenance of a long established sacred covenant that is held dear by people, not only locally but also globally. I have been married for 36 years and I do expect the legal relationship I entered into maintains the original definition.

I have been married for 37 years and I would feel very disappointed if our government were to change the definition of marriage. This would mean a lot of married couples who are opposed to same sex marriage would be just put into some category that is not what they took a vow to. Where does this leave them?

I work in the area of child protection and so some of reasoning is based on my experience working with broken families and the effects on children. I have seen many varied family groups and my conclusions are that even though it may not be perfect, children thrive best when they have both a male and female parent.

Because of my Christian beliefs which are strongly held, I believe that marriage should be between a man and woman as it is the natural way to build a stable society.

It is my belief that a marriage should only be between a man and a woman, based not only on my religious beliefs, but also on my experiences in interacting with both same-sex and traditional couples. It is my belief that marriages are lasting unions, and allowing same-sex couples to get married would delegitimise the sacred union of marriage, as there may be higher chances for divorce.

I have had the privilege of working as an accredited welfare worker, church pastor, marriage celebrant and counsellor over a forty six year period. During that time I experienced living and working with people from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs, and one thing stood out, the primacy of the marriage between a man and a woman and the importance of the family unit as the building block for a healthy society. The current description in law has it right.

Marriage is a special relationship between one man and one woman. It holds religious significance to many people, including my family and this should be respected. I worry that redefining marriage could change my religious freedom. Families are built on marriage and society built on strong family life. Research has shown that a child with married, biological mother and father do best. I believe that this is the model we should aim for in society.

Although you are elected as my representative I do not give you the power to change elements of my life and of the world that are far beyond the purview of any government.

My rights as a ‘married’ person are being ridiculed by the selfishness of homosexual couples. I took my marriage vows very seriously indeed - they are personal and meaningful in a relationship between a male and female. Find another word and you might be surprised at the support you get.

Marriage is essential to strong, stable family units, which in turn are essential in protecting the stability of our society. (Even some in favour of same-sex marriage have acknowledged this fact and try to use it to further their own position!)

Stable families create a stable society.

The government should support the marriage of 2 people that wish to wish to create a family unit. This will result in a more stable family unit without prejudice.

Marriage is the foundation of family which in turn is the foundation [of] society.

As Australian citizens it is our firm belief that the social fabric of this wonderful country of ours is held together by the foundation of the family, underpinned by marriage.

I have felt privileged to interact with people from such a diverse range of family backgrounds, who have shown me firsthand that families don't all have to look the same to share in the same love and positivity I believe we all value and want for our families.

I have grave concerns for the concept of family and the long term legal, morale and social implications of this legislation. 

The values and traditions surrounding marriage in Australia are applicable to all citizens regardless of their sexuality- love, respect, companionship and family.

To me the criteria for a committed long term marriage is love, respect and a conscious commitment to support each other through life. To me this commitment has nothing to do with a person's sexual preference or orientation.

Who are we to decide who has the most committed relationship or fits the modern definition of family?

[My photos of same-sex couples who have been together for more than 8.7 years include] people of different religions – so far I have taken photos in a Buddhist temple, a Jewish synagogue and a Church. And many others who are committed to their religion and spirituality.

Our culture is based on the Christian religion and God loves both men and women.

Marriage is deeply held by a large proportion of the population for cultural and religious reasons.

Marriage regulation should not be the exclusive right of religious groups. I am a religious person, and had a church marriage, but I believe those of other persuasions should also have the right to publicly affirm their commitment to another person.

Marriage should be a civil right in Australia for all who choose it.  Religion is a choice and people should be free to follow the religious teachings of their choice it has nothing to do with a person’s right to marriage.

Marriage has always been defined by our society and by the religions of many of our citizens and their ancestors as between a man and a woman.

I believe that marriage is a covenant relationship that is recognised according to Christian beliefs and values.

In a country that holds separation of church & state in high regard, and wishes to maintain a respectful position on human rights, there is no reason to treat same-sex couples as inferior citizens.

On religious grounds, I believe that a same-sex union should not be called a marriage.

All Australian citizens should be treated equally - no matter what race, religion, colour or sexual orientation.

Same sex couples already have all [the] rights of a married couple enshrined in law and this is equitable and just.

Our values as a country are based on acceptance and a "fair go".

I believe that same sex relationships already have adequate recognition under current laws, and that same sex couples already have the same legal rights as de facto couples and married couples. There is no reason to change the definition of marriage from what it has always been.

Australians have come from all creeds, classes and cultures. We are a country that prides ourselves on a fair go, which is another way of saying an equal opportunity for all.

Marriage equality is about human rights. Same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as other couples. And besides, I think everyone has forgotten, this is just about love. And commitment.

I believe that same sex couples in committed relationships deserve the same legal rights as de facto or married couples, however I object to it being marriage.

All people should be treated equally before the law.

If it is true that the same legal rights are provided to same-sex couples as they are to married couples then the argument is over the definition of a term. I see no reason to redefine a long-standing term.

All Australians deserve equal rights to love, marriage and family.

Why would marriage not be for all?

Contacts for this inquiry

Comments to: The Secretary of the Committee on PH: (02) 6277 4969
or e-mail:

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