How the same-sex marraige debate is redundant and wasteful

WARNING: This is a contentious debate. The topic is not about whether passing same-sex marraige is right or not, it is about how the process isn’t necessary.

Rachael Scharrer, founder of weighs in on the same-sex marriage debate with her findings.

I find it interesting how, in the 21st century, some conservative people in positions of power and influence are resisting the immediate legalisation of same-sex marriage. To date, politicians have wasted so much time on debating whether to make the decision of legalised same-sex marriages plebiscite. Politicians can implement change in three ways:

  1. Plebiscite (the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution)
  2. Referendum (a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision)
  3. Pass legislation to enact marriage equality laws and associated relevant elements (like superannuation)

I don’t understand why the politicians are deciding on whether the question of legalised marriage equality should be plebiscite or referendum (at a cost of $122 million to tax-payers) when politicians already have the power to make changes to the law. In 2013 the High Court found that the definition of “marriage” in the Constitution includes same-sex unions. This made it clear the Federal Parliament has the power to enact marriage equality. Therefore, no referendum is required.

The High Court ruling also means that while same-sex marriage is not offered a legalised piece of paper sanctioning the union, it is recognised as a valid de facto relationship. De facto relationships are considered a ‘marriage’ in the eyes of the Family Court. Therefore, same sex de facto relationships qualify for all of the rules and regulations of a legalised marriage. Even if the same-sex marriage law was not passed, the pressures on the family court will not wane because same same-sex relationships qualify for the Family Laws.

According to the 2011 Census , there were around 33,700 same-sex couples in Australia, with 17,600 male same-sex couples and 16,100 female same-sex couples. Same-sex couples represented about 1% of all couples in Australia. The pattern of same-sex couples is increasing – thus the need for legalising same-sex marriage is becoming more and more relevant. The majority of Australians, regardless of religious or cultural orientation, are supportive of same-sex marriage.

Why, 4 years on, in 2017, are we no closer to legalised same-sex marriage? Given that the politicians have the power to legalise same-sex marriage and that we don’t need plebiscite or a referendum, I am sure the vast majority of Australians would appreciate the politicians signing the ‘piece of paper’ and redirecting the allocated $122 million to healthcare, hospitals, education and making education more accessible.


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