Labor pollie tells: Labor is bigoted
In the wake of New York’s historic decision to legalise same sex marriages, I find myself increasingly frustrated by the Australian Government’s refusal to provide Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) to same sex couples who wish to wed overseas in countries that recognise marriage equality.
As someone who is considering marrying their partner overseas, I am personally affected and outraged by this bureaucratic bigotry.
Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage are designed to assure foreign governments that the applicants can legally be married overseas; they confirm that applicants are of marriageable age, aren’t closely related to each other and aren’t currently married in Australia.
The Australian government refuses to provide CNIs to same sex couples, a policy that has been in place in 2004. This is despite a 2009 tri-partisan Senate Committee inquiry into same sex marriage that recommended same sex couples have access to CNIs. The Senate Committee found:
A decision by a sovereign nation to allow marriage between a couple of the same sex should be a matter for that nation, and not a matter against which Australia should throw up bureaucratic barriers.
I believe the current policy is discriminatory and mean-spirited – and should be addressed with haste by the Gillard Government.
I first raised this matter with the Attorney-General Hon Robert McClelland in February 2011, and I have again written to him this week to urge the Gillard Government to rescind this policy. I note that Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie recently raised this matter in federal Parliament, calling on the Prime Minister to reverse the current CNI policy.
The Attorney-General has informed me that CNIs are not issued to same sex couples because same sex marriages are not recognised in Australia.
The problem with this argument is that CNIs are not designed to validate overseas marriages. The issuance of certificates does not imply any formal recognition in Australia of the overseas marriages – whether between homosexuals or heterosexuals.
Why should Australian same sex couples be discriminated and inconvenienced in this manner? Why should overseas nations such as The Netherlands, Norway and Portugal have to make special exemptions from their usual CNI requirements, acknowledging that it is impossible for same sex couples to obtain basic legal documentation from their own government?
The Gillard Government should be ashamed of this policy. To refuse same sex couples CNIs is unnecessarily mean, and causes significant inconvenience and distress for same sex couples, their family and friends.
Regardless of the outcome of the current internal Labor Party and wider community debate regarding marriage equality, this is an issue that must be addressed as a matter of fairness.
I call on the Gillard Government to overturn this policy immediately.
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