Australian Marriage Equality

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Australian Marriage Equality (AME) is an advocacy group made up of volunteers who have come together to pursue marriage equality in Australia. AME partner with a diverse range of organisations and supporters across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in Australia.[1] It is the pre-eminent group campaigning for marriage equality in Australia[citation needed].

AME was founded in 2004 prior to the Federal Parliament's passage of a bill amending the Marriage Act 1961 to rule out the legal recognition of marriages between same-sex couples.

National conveners[edit]

The co-founder and first national Convener of AME was Luke Gahan.[2] Luke, grandson of the former Mayor of Prahran George Gahan, had been a member of the Australian Labor Party and Treasurer of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.[3] In a 2011 published book called 'Speak Now' Luke Gahan spoke openly about being the youngest 'gay married' Australian, and subsequently Australia's first 'gay divorcee'.[4] Luke Gahan is now a Sociologist based at Melbourne's La Trobe University where he was one of the authors of "Writing Themselves in 3", the third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people.[5]

The second national Convener of AME was Peter Furness. Furness was a former South Sydney Councillor for the Australian Democrats[6]

The third national Convener of AME was Sharon Dane. Sharon is a social psychologist and an Adjunct Fellow of the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland.[7] Sharon Dane was the lead author of Not So Private Lives, which was the first national study to examine same-sex Australians' preferences for relationship recognition, since the introduction of defacto status for same-sex couples at a federal level. She presented findings from this research at the hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009.[8] Sharon Dane married her partner Elaine Crump in Toronto, Canada on 23 July 2008.

The fourth national spokesperson was Alex Greenwich. Greenwich is the son of Mr Victor Greenwich, Head of the Georgian Consular General in Sydney.[9] In 2012 Greenwich married his German partner Victor Hoeld in Argentina.[10] Alex Greenwich was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2012 City of Sydney Council election when the voters of Sydney rejected the marriage equality candidates bid for office.[11][12] Following his loss at the City of Sydney elections, Alex Greenwich was endorsed by the outgoing New South Wales state member of Parliament Clover Moore MLA to run for the seat of Sydney in a by-election in 2012.[13] In September 2012 after the failure of several same-sex marriage bills in his time as convenor,[14][15][16] Alex Greenwich stood down as national convenor and switched his focus to running as an Independent for the New South Wales state parliament.[17] In October 2012 Alex Greenwich became the first same-sex married man in an Australian Parliament after winning the Sydney by-election.[18]

The current national Convener is Rodney Croome from Tasmania.[17]

Activities[edit]

The fist national convenor Luke Gahan launched Australia's campaign for marriage equality in May 2005,[19] 9 months after the Federal Liberal/National Party Coalition Government banned same-sex marriage.[20]

AME began newspaper and television advertisements in 2009 to call for same-sex marriage.[21] They were also invited to speak at a hearing into the Senate Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009.[8]

In December 2011 AME campaigners met with Sydney's Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell to discuss the Australian Catholic Church's campaign against same-sex marriage.[22] The group has also met with members of parliament from both major parties to stress the importance of marriage to families and to gay and lesbian youth.[23]

AME members protested Prime Minister Julia Gillard's address to the Sydney Institute at a dinner in Luna Park in April 2011, with protesters holding photographs of same-sex couples who could not marry.[24] Later that year, they launched a series of touring workshops called "Local Voices," which aim to cultivate grassroots activism for same-sex marriage.[25]

Raising awareness[edit]

On Valentine's Day 2011, AME, partnered with GetUp! to run the Marriage Matters advertising campaign, emphasising the importance of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.[26] Another commercial released around the same time featured twin brothers Paul and David Battye; Paul was best man at his brother's wedding, but cannot himself get married.[27]

When Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton married in 2011, AME, with GetUp!, sponsored public outdoor screenings of the event in order to call attention to the fact that gay and lesbian people in Australia cannot marry their partners. "On this happy day when Australians celebrate the royal wedding, many Australians share the aspiration to one day marry their own 'prince' or princess', including many gay and lesbian Australians," commented a spokesperson for the organisation. [28]

Commissioning polls and studies[edit]

AME commissioned a Galaxy Poll in 2010 which found that 62 per cent of Australians support same-sex marriage, and 80 per cent of young people (18–24 years) support marriage equality.[29] In 2011 they commissioned a second Galaxy Poll which found 75% of Australians think legalising same-sex marriage in Australia is inevitable.[30]

In March 2011, AME released a paper which found that Australia's same-sex marriage ban hurt its economy. According to the paper, married partners are less likely to seek government aid, state and territorial governments gain money by issuing marriage licenses, wedding expenditures would stimulate the economy, and tourism would also benefit.[31]

A July 2014 poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality and conducted by Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor found that 72% of Australians supported legalising same-sex marriage, while only 21% were opposed. A majority of those identifying with major religions supported same-sex marriage, including Catholics, Anglicans and non-Christian religions as did a majority of older Australians aged over 55. Mark Textor stated "This poll definitively puts pay to some of the myths that married couples or those with religious beliefs are against same-sex marriage. It doesn’t devalue their marriages or faith, and instead gives everyone equal access to the rights they are accorded". Further, 77% of respondents agreed that Coalition MP's and Senators should be granted a conscience vote on the issue.[32][33]

Rebutting opponents[edit]

AME Board Member Rodney Croome has repeatedly criticised Senator Cory Bernardi's remarks linking same-sex marriage to bestiality. In June 2013 he stated “Not one country that has allowed same-sex marriage has moved to legitimise polygamy or bestiality for the simply reason they’re not linked, legally, socially or culturally.”[34] In an article on website On Line Opinion entitled The slippery slope to homophobia, Croome countered the ‘slippery slope’ arguments that claim marriage equality will lead to incestuous relationships and multiple partner relationships, calling them ‘fear mongering’.[35]

Current status[edit]

In August 2013, AME announced that they would distribute leaflets to "over half a million Australian voters" with information about their local candidate's stance on marriage equality.[36] Rodney Croome highlighted a poll released by the Australia Institute finding that same-sex marriage was the fourth most important issue to 18-25 year old voters.[37] A Fairfax Nielsen Poll later that month found that 65% of Australians supported marriage equality, while only 16% said the issue was "very important" in deciding their vote.[38][39] AME convener Rodney Croome commented that there is a "huge gap" between public acceptance of same-sex relationships and the low level of support for same sex marriage among politicians.[40]

Same-sex marriage was introduced for the first time in Australia in the Australian Capital Territory in December 2013, but the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 was subsequently voided by a legal challenge to the High Court. However AME said the ruling was just "a temporary defeat".[41] Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd proposed that same-sex marriage go to a referendum in June 2013, but the offer was rejected by AME and the Greens.[42]

Rodney Croome has criticised the tactics of the Australian marriage-equality lobby-group Equal Love as "counterproductive and unrepresentative" to the movement, which he claimed drive away the elderly and people of faith, echoing other criticism of the group in the Star Observer.[43][44] A committee member for Equal Love argued Croome launched an "unsubtle attack" and defended their tactics, stating "a visual display of community outrage over the issue emboldens those who want change"[45]

With the introduction of same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom, same-sex couples, where one or both of the partners are British nationals, will be able to marry at British consulates in Australia from June 2014 (for which AME congratulated the government), however their marriage will not be legally recognised in Australia.[46]

Australia's intersex community expressed concern, with Tony Briffa, Vice President of the Organisation Intersex International Australia saying that as AME does not advocate marriage equality for everyone, it should change its name.[47][48] A legal opinion was sought from the Australian Human Rights Law Centre regarding same-sex marriage for trans and intersex people.[49] Croome agreed with the Centre's findings saying, "Ultimately, equality means equality for all."[50]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Australian Marriage Equality - About". Facebook. 
  2. ^ "Gay Couple Married in Canada blast Australian Government". 365gay.com. 28 December 2005. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "New Committee to Continue the fight for gay and lesbian rights". Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. 27 August 2002. 
  4. ^ Gahan, Luke (2011). "'The Ins and Outs of Marriage and Divorce". Speak Now, Edited by Victor Marsh. Clouds of Magellan. 
  5. ^ "Staff Profile Luke Gahan". La Trobe University. 
  6. ^ "Democrat Win GST Scare Campaign Fails". Australian Democrats. 2 July 2000. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Staff Profile Sharon Dane". School of Psychology, The University of Queensland. 
  8. ^ a b [1].
  9. ^ http://www.embassypages.com/missions/embassy17011/
  10. ^ Serkan Ozturk (15 May 2012). "GREENWICH CELEBRATES HISTORIC NUPTIALS IN ARGENTINA". Gay News Network. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Alex Greenwich to decide on state seat in coming weeks". Wentworth Courier. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Clover Moore finalises line-up for council elections". Wentworth Courier. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Moore backs marriage-equality advocate". Herald-Sun. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Senate Rejects Gay Marriage Bill". Sydney Morning Herald. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Gay marriage bill defeated". Sydney Morning Herald. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "Gay marriage bill fails in Senate". SBS. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "What Now for Marriage Equality?". The Stirrer. 14 October 2012. Retrieved 15 Oct 2012. 
  18. ^ "Greenwich responds to gay party boy sledge". Sydney Star Observer. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Campaign Launched for Gay Marriage". The Age Newspaper. 1 May 2005. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Democrat pleads for rethink on gay marriage ban". The Age Newspaper. 14 August 2004. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  21. ^ "My Son Is Not a Second Rate Citizen". Australian Marriage Equality. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  22. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (31 January 2011). "Gays vow respect in marriage debate". The Australian. 
  23. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (10 February 2011). "Bishop breaks ranks on same-sex marriage". The Australian. 
  24. ^ "Marriage protesters confront Gillard". Sydney Star Observer. 14 April 2011. 
  25. ^ Dunkin, Alex (23 May 2011). "AME marriage campaign workshops go national". Blaze. 
  26. ^ Singh, Sheenal (6 February 2011). "Ad puts a face to gay marriage issue". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  27. ^ "Gay marriage draws Gaga gatecrash". Daily Examiner. 14 February 2011. 
  28. ^ "Royals put focus on marriage rights". Sydney Star Observer. 21 April 2011. 
  29. ^ "Same-sex marriage study". Galaxy Research. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  30. ^ "Most Australians believe gay marriage will happen - Galaxy poll". The Daily Telegraph. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  31. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (21 March 2011). "Same-sex marriage ban hurts economy". The Australian. 
  32. ^ Mark Textor (15 Jul 2014). "New poll shows record 72% support for marriage equality". Crosby Textor Group. 
  33. ^ Lisa Cox (15 July 2014). "Poll shows growing support for same-sex marriage". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  34. ^ Jonathan Swan (June 18, 2013). "Bernardi: I was right on gay marriage and polygamy". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  35. ^ Croome, Rodney (7 June 2012). "The slippery slope to homophobia". On Line Opinion. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  36. ^ Cec Busby (16 August 2013). "VOTE4LOVE GIVES YOU THE LOWDOWN ON ALL THE CANDIDATES". Gay News Network. 
  37. ^ Clay Lucas (August 6, 2013). "Young voters rate jobs, housing, uni funding as main issues". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 
  38. ^ Chris Johnson (August 24, 2013). "Gay marriage support up but it won't change poll". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  39. ^ Neilsen, Mary Anne. "Same-sex marriage". Australian Parliament House. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  40. ^ BENEDICT BROOK (23 April 2014). "AUSTRALIA IN TOP 10 OF MOST PRO-GAY COUNTRIES". Star Observer. 
  41. ^ Wilson, Lauren (12 December 2013). "High Court strikes down ACT gay marriage law". The Australian. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  42. ^ Hall, Ashley (28 June 2013). "Kevin Rudd's gay marriage referendum offer dismissed by advocates'". ABC. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  43. ^ Alexander, David (6 December 2013). "Equal love banner attracts unwanted attention". Star Observer. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  44. ^ Croome, Rodney (3 December 2013). "Fewer rallies, more community engagement for marriage fairness". Star Observer. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  45. ^ McAtamney, Nicholas (16 December 2013). "We are not your enemy keep rallying for marriage equality!". Star Observer. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  46. ^ Dan Harrison (March 28, 2014). "Same-sex couples can marry in UK consulates from June". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  47. ^ "Briffa Calls for Australian Marriage Equality to Change It’s Name". Out In Perth. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  48. ^ Ozturk, Serkan (21 October 2013). "ACT marriage bill “excludes” intersex people'". Star Observer. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  49. ^ "ACT’s Marriage Equality laws remain vulnerable say legal experts, Human Rights Law Centre". Australian Human Rights Law Centre. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  50. ^ Busby, Cec (21 May 2014). "Advocates work together to ensure inclusive marriage equality bill". Gay News Network. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 

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