PM targets gays in marriage law
Gay couples will be banned from marrying or adopting children from overseas but will be allowed to inherit their partner’s superannuation under proposed changes to marriage laws announced today.
Less than an hour after Prime Minister John Howard announced the changes to the Marriage Act, the government rushed legislation enabling the changes into parliament.
Mr Howard said the Marriage Act would be changed to include a definition of marriage as the `voluntarily entered into union of a man and a woman to exclusion of all others’. The laws currently do not define marriage. “We’ve decided to insert this into the Marriage Act to make it very plain that that is our view of a marriage and to also make it very plain that the definition of a marriage is something that should rest in the hands ultimately of the parliament of the nation,” Mr Howard told reporters.
”(It should) not over time be subject to redefinition or change by courts, it is something that ought to be expressed through the elected representatives of the country.”
The change would mean that couples could not marry overseas in a country where gay marriage was legal and then hope to have the union recognised on their return to Australia. Mr Howard also said the Family Law Act would be changed to prevent, where possible, gay couples adopting children from overseas. “We are also going to amend the legislation to ensure that same sex couples … will not be eligible as prospective adoptive parents under any multilateral or bilateral agreement concerning the adoption of children to which Australia is a party,” he said. Superannuation laws will also be changed to expand the definition of a dependant in regards to superannuation death benefits to include people in a financially interdependent relationship.
Mr Howard said the changes would, for example, allow two elderly sisters who lived together and were interdependent to receive each other’s superannuation benefits tax free.
“The changes we are announcing today will provide greater certainty for the payment of super death benefits for those involved in interdependency relationships including, of course, members of same sex relationships,” he said.
“The amendments to the definition of dependence will not alter the definition of a spouse and will not specifically recognise same sex relationships.
“As far as the other measures are concerned, the government takes the view that not only is it a statement of its attitude towards marriage but it’s also a necessary assertion by the parliament of the country above all others to define what is regarded in our community what is a marriage.”
AttorneyGeneral Philip Ruddock said the changes to the Marriage Act would protect the institution of marriage, while the Family Law Act changes would make it clear that overseas adoptions by samesex couples would not be recognised in Australia.
“The government is fundamentally opposed to same sex couples adopting children,” Mr Ruddock said in a statement.
Australian Associated Press (AAP) May 27, 2004 2:04PM