Second-class citizens: now you know what you really are…

13 Jun

The “Liberals” have struck.

G-G to disallow civil unions laws

The Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, has agreed to disallow the ACT’s civil union laws.

The Federal Government objected to the law, which recognises gay and lesbian relationships, saying it was at odds with the Marriage Act.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says in a meeting of the executive council this morning, the Governor-General agreed to overturn the law.

The move is effective from today, and Mr Ruddock says it will prevent the ACT Government’s attempt to speed up the approval of civil unions.

“In effect the ploy of bringing forward the date of operation and endeavouring to provide for registration of civil celebrants has failed,” he said….

…Mr Ruddock says the Federal Government respects the rights of the ACT to make laws, as long as they do not exceed the Territory’s powers.

“We have no quarrel with the Territory’s legislating in those areas in which it has responsibility, and we accept the decisions that they make supported by their electorate,” he said.

“Except when they provocatively and deliberately seek to intrude into areas in which they have no responsibility.”

The relevant article of the Australian Constitution is Section 51(xxxvii), explained there in Wikipedia. If anyone out there is competent in this area — I am not — how much credence should we give to Attorney-General Ruddock’s use of it today? Is he, and are the government, bending it to their predetermined ends, or is this a proper interpretation? I really don’t know. I will be interested in any opinions.*

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom

Gay weddings are not legal in the UK. However, the Civil Partnership Act (passed in 2004) creates a new legal relationship of “civil partnership”, which two people of the same sex can form by signing a registration document. Civil partners will have a range of legal rights and responsibilities, although not all of those associated with marriage. The act came into force in December 2005.

Hell will freeze over before John Howard really regards gays and lesbians as his equals.

It appears, though, that families still exist in the United Kingdom. People marry — or some do— have children, and get divorced, just as they did before Elton John finally tied the knot. Isn’t that amazing!

* Later

Comments (and corrections) duly arrived. Thanks. Read the comments.

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3 responses to “Second-class citizens: now you know what you really are…

  1. marcelproust

    June 13, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    I think you’ve got the wrong section, mate. Should be (quoting from the page you link to) “marriage (Section 51(xxi)) and matrimonial causes (Section 51xxii)).” And then, the question is whether an act which treats other relationships as if they were marriages is a law about marriage or a law about other relationships. I would have thought it was the latter. Personally, can’t help being vulgar here: Ruddock’s reasoning (and Howard’s) is a crock of shit. And as for Ruddock legitimizing himself by saying that the G-G “agreed” to do what he was advised to do, Ruddock knows full well that, despite Kerr’s delinquency in 1975, a Governor-General really has no choice but to act in accordance with his ministers’ “advice.”

  2. Ninglun (corrected) expands

    June 13, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    Thanks Marcel. See this opinion: The High Court and the Meaning of ‘Marriage’ in Section 51(xxi) of the Constitution by Ian Ireland, from the Law and Bills Digest Group 12 February 2002.

    Over the past 25 years in Australia many laws affecting marriage have been instituted by the Commonwealth. However, there remains intact one major limitation, namely, that prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex.

    Same sex marriages are now recognised in the Netherlands and official recognition of the union of same sex couples is available in a number of other foreign jurisdictions and becoming more widespread.

    Australia’s failure to recognise the union of same sex couples is about to be raised before the United Nations in regards to an alleged case of discrimination against the partner of a deceased Second World War veteran.

    The full text of Section 51 is on the Australian Politics site.

    And as to your last point, I guess the Queen had no choice about signing up to the UK Civil Partnership Act either — though given the Queen Mum’s alleged fondness for gay men, I like to think she signed it willingly. This story suggests as much.

    The Queen makes personal gesture to facilitate gay partnerships

    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, head of state of the UK and a multitude of other countries, symbolic head of the Anglican Church, head of the commonwealth, and a living embodiment of conservative and long-standing traditions stretching back many hundreds of years, has given her blessing to at least one gay civil partnership in a most personal and practical way…

    The Queen made a very real pragmatic and personal gesture that signified acknowledgement of at least one civil partnership between gay men: So that Elton John and David Furnish could get to their partnership registration in their Rolls-Royce more easily and discreetly, given some expected crowds and a fair amount of press attention, she allowed them to take a short cut to Windsor Guildhall by nipping through her back garden. And we aren’t talking any old back garden either: We are of course referring to the crown estates that ajoin Windsor Castle and Windsor Guildhall, one of the most magnificent and prestigious ‘back gardens’ in the world.

    We should not be that surprised really. After all, The Queen grew up in a household when gay courtiers seemed to be represented out of all proportion to the percentage of gay people in the general population…

  3. Owner updating

    June 15, 2006 at 7:49 pm

    See the Sydney Star Observer.

    Efforts to block the federal government’s veto of the ACT’s civil unions law in the Senate have failed, with a disallowance motion being rejected by a slim majority this afternoon.

    The defeat came despite Liberal senator and former ACT chief minister Gary Humphries crossing the floor to vote for the motion.

    Thirty-two senators voted against the motion proposed by Labor, the Greens and the Democrats. Thirty voted in favour of the move. Fourteen senators did not vote.

    The motion was federal parliament’s last chance to block the civil unions overrule, which took effect earlier this week.

    Today’s debate saw senators including the Greens’ Kerry Nettle and the Democrats’ Lyn Allison urge parliament to uphold tolerance by backing the disallowance motion. Nettle urged parliament to take the opportunity to remove discrimination, as the federal government has promised to do. Allison said the federal government’s homophobic stance, including the civil unions veto, was “deeply damaging”.

    Activists have expressed disappoinment at the Senate vote but vowed to fight on. Newly formed Melbourne lobby group Civil Union Action will hold a protest outside Liberal Party headquarters in the Victorian capital tomorrow to protest the Senate decision. “The actions of the federal government in overriding the civil unions legislation has nothing to do with legal conflicts, and everything to do with homophobia,” Civil Union Action spokesperson John Kloprogge said.

    The ACT government is expected to introduce a new civil union bill into parliament following today’s Senate vote.

    The federal government has said it will examine any future civil union legislation.

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