The FAQ


1.

Am I allowed to sign up?

This campaign is about mobilising the legal community - we welcome everyone connected to the law.  Lawyers, ex-lawyers, law students, people who work in law firms and legal organisations, barristers, judges, professors; but hey, if you feel connected to this campaign and you'd like to be part of it, then that's good enough for us.


 

2.

What about the Plebiscite?

Plebiscite or no plebiscite, the change we seek can only be made by amending the Marriage Act, and that can only be done by Parliament.  Even a “binding” plebiscite would still be subject to the whim of Parliament.

We are opposed to the plebiscite, but we are not going to engage in that argument.  If they want to have a plebiscite, so be it.  Our focus is on the place where the law will be changed: Parliament.


 

3.

Two People: Is this a slippery slope towards incestuous and under-age marriages?

No.  The Marriage Act prohibits incestuous and under-age marriages, and those prohibitions will be unaffected by the amendments we are seeking.  We are arguing for nothing other than removal of the discriminatory stipulation that marriage is restricted to opposite-gender couples.


 

4.

Does the parliament have power to redefine marriage this way?

Yes.  The High Court confirmed in Commonwealth v Australian Capital Territory [2013] AC 55, when declaring invalid the ACT Government’s attempt to institute marriage equality in the ACT, that the Commonwealth Parliament has power, pursuant to section 51(xxi) of the Constitution, to define the scope of marriage.  This is now beyond doubt.


 

5.

What are the specific amendments we are seeking?

Three amendments to the Marriage Act are required:

  1. Section 5 defines “marriage” as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.  The words “a man and a woman” should be deleted and replaced by “two people”.
  2. Section 46 stipulates words a marriage celebrant is legally required to say, including that “Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.  Again, “a man and a woman” should be replaced by “two people”.
  3. Section 88EA provides that a union solemnised in a foreign country between a man and a man or a woman and a woman must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.  It should be repealed.

 

6.

Will churches or celebrants be forced to conduct same-sex marriages?

If the Parliament in its wisdom decides to allow churches and celebrants the choice to refuse to celebrate marriages of same sex couples without falling foul of anti-discrimination laws, then it can include that in its amendments to the Marriage Act.  We are not arguing that case.  Nor are we interested in the plight of cake makers who don’t want gay couples eating their produce.  These are irrelevant distractions.