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16 responses to “Andrew Fraser’s Civil Unions bill being considered by parliamentary committee”

  1. Kim

    Well said Mark!

  2. GregM

    Mark, thanks to the link to the Bill.

    It is well intentioned but it is poor in its drafting.

    It does not state that a civil partnership is based on a sexual relatiionship, which I would have thought was the whole point of the legislation.

    See Section 4 of the Act.

  3. Lefty E

    Good on the Bligh govt here (or is Fraser? – Dunno Im out of the Quinceland loop!). Hope they pull it off.

    Shit, Id never consider marriage, but maybe I’d go for a civil union. Assuming that trumps defacto hetero coupling, in Christian mindsets – then the move will presumably strenghten ‘the family’ overall, what?

  4. John D

    I would agree with the LNP that the ongoing argument about same sex unions is a distraction. A distraction that is going to continue until we all grow up and accept that the law should not distinguish between same sex and opposite sex relationships.
    It is particularly disappointing that the non-grownups in both the national and state LNP are not going to allow a conscience vote on the matter.

  5. Kim

    @3 – Lefty E, it’s a private member’s bill introduced by Fraser in his capacity as Member for Mt Cootha, but the government has allocated parliamentary time to it. I gather that’s one of the supposed grounds for objection by the opposition.

    You know, there should be more parliamentary time devoted to Jeff Seeney spluttering at the mouth, or something.

    It has the support of the overwhelming majority of the Labor caucus. Three members have indicated opposition, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re persuaded to abstain rather than vote against.

    The committee reports to Parliament on 21 November.

  6. tigtog

    @GregM, my brief perusal of the Marriage Act, 1961 cannot find any mention of traditional marriage being “based on a sexual relationship” either. Assuming for the sake of argument that I haven’t missed such a mention, would that omission make the Marriage Act equally badly drafted, in your opinion?

  7. Kim

    I don’t see that it has to be based on a sexual relationship!

  8. tigtog

    Exactly my point, Kim. I have read with interest the blogs of quite a few people who are asexual – that doesn’t mean that they don’t/can’t have intense romantic intimate relationships that might move one day into marriage/civil partnership territory.

  9. Kim

    Indeed, tigtog.

  10. Kim

    Meanwhile, some sensible stuff from the Queensland Law Society:

    The final submission of the day (is that a sigh of relief we just heard?) comes from the Queensland Law Society, fronted by President Bruce Doyle. They’re not happy with the ”very short consulation period” that they say was allotted for the bill, though they support the policy behind it.

    They make some interesting points that no-one else today has raised, about the legal benefits of introducing civil partnerships. Determining whether a de facto relationship exists can result in a huge amount of legal costs, Mr Doyle said. If de facto couples (heterosexual or homosexual) registered their relationships, it would be assumed these cases would be reduced. Mr Doyle said the society believed there would be benefits in other areas of law as well including taxation and succession.

    Mr Doyle says it’s clear that civil partnerships are not a marriage and though while some advocates of same-sex marriage might hope for more, this bill was the best the state government could do within its powers.

    He also said he expected heterosexual couples to want to enter civil partnerships, as well as same-sex couples, in order to commit to a long-term relationship ”without the cultural baggage of marriage”.

  11. Kim

    And from QAHC:

    Derek Cronin, a Gold Coast lawyer, is speaking on behalf of Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, of Rip ‘n’ Roll fame.
    He’s been in a relationship with a man for 14 years (to the day, he says) and describes himself as from a Catholic background with traditional family values.

    One of his main worries is the issue of proving a relationship to hospital staff during a medical emergency when it’s “family only”.

    Mr Cronin says while he and his partner have supportive families, and that as a lawyer he’s easily able to draft legal documents giving each other powers of attorney, he’s concerned for couples without that luxury.

  12. Kim

    … a point echoed by Very Reverend Peter Catt from the Anglican Church of Australia’s Social Responsibilities Committee, who is also supporting the bill.

  13. David Irving (no relation)

    I hope, particularly if it’s passed, that this will give the Federal government the courage to revisit the Marriage Act.

  14. Kim

    I think there will be a federal bill, David, but as Mark said in the post, it’s likely to fail because a substantial number of Labor MPs will vote against under a conscience vote, and the Coalition (as with the LNP in Queensland) is saying it will vote against. Hopefully some Liberal MPs might summon up the courage to cross the floor.

    In the Queensland Parliament, Labor has a healthy majority, and the influence of the Catholic Right on the Labor caucus is a lot less than in some other states.

    Plus it’s pretty clear that despite the fact that this is a private member’s bill, it’s part of the Bligh government’s strategy to differentiate itself from the LNP, introduce some progressive reforms, and paint (accurately) Campbell Newman as captive to the fundies and rural hicks in his party.

  15. Greg

    @Kim

    Federal Liberal/Nat MP’s crossing the floor to vote on ammending the Marriage Act while Abbot is leader? Surely impossible.

    We know his homophobia and deeply conservative Catholic prejudices; he’s the Vatican’s man through and through. I can just imagine him making all kinds of dark threats to keep his MP’s on the straight and narrow as a vote approaches, if that vote ever happens. There’s no anger like self-rightous religious anger and Abbot has plenty of it, bubbling just below the surface. Then there’s the threats of excommunication from the Catholic church that might be made towards Abbot himself.

    But to get back on topic, kudos to Andrew Fraser. I hope the QLD Civil Unions bill gets up.

  16. Nickws

    Gillard has jumped, and it looks like national conference will allow members of federal caucus to exercise a conscience vote on this issue at some point, http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/bring-on-debate-let-there-be-noise-20111114-1nfgm.html

    There are two other debates that will be lively. The first is on same-sex marriage. I am proud Labor has been at the forefront of changing laws to end discrimination against same-sex couples in so many areas. We have come a long way as a more inclusive and fair society in a relatively short time.

    However, I equally recognise the deeply held convictions in society on the questions of marriage. This diversity of public opinion is reflected in the passionate debate inside the Labor Party. Given the personal nature of the issue and the deeply held beliefs, I believe that in future it is appropriate that a conscience vote flow to Labor MPs. They should be free to vote in Parliament according to their own values and beliefs.

    Many will ask what my opinion is and where I stand in the debate. As I have said many times, I support maintaining the Marriage Act in its current form and the government will not move legislation to change it. My position flows from my strong conviction that the institution of marriage has come to have a particular meaning and standing in our culture and nation, and that should continue unchanged. The Labor platform currently reflects this view.

    This is a debate I have not shirked and it is one the party will hold. What we must do when that debate is over is to respect one another’s point of view.

    I agree with PM here, but I see a couple of flies in the ointment:

    (a.) Great. Bring on the Leftwing complaints about the need to enforce a yes vote for gay marriage, regardless of the fact Labor allowed conscience votes on those landmark bills to decriminalise homosexuality back in the day, regardless of the fact that the previous anti-gay-marriage regime has never been used to create any Clintonian ‘DOMA’ monstrosity (which would have forced all Labor MPs to cast a vote in favour of discrimation.)

    (b.) Has this policy breakthrough been achieved as part of a grand factional deal to also get the ALP platform amended to allow the sale of uranium to India? Gillard’s open letter contains mention of only two substantial ideas, and the uranium deal gets precedence over marriage law reform. Urrgh. The politics of the smoke filled backroom. No way the Greens could possibly connect the dots there and use this in some way against the ALP…