The ACT Assembly has recently passed laws legalising same sex civil unions. The Federal Government has proposed amendments to the legislation relating to same sex couples being able to hold official ceremonies to mark their civil unions.
What is a same sex union?
The legislation allows same-sex couples to enter into a legally binding civil union, through an official ceremony, just as heterosexual couples are able to do so through the institution of marriage.
The Federal Government has previously blocked similar ACT legislation on the basis that it contravened the Federal “Marriage Act”, which by definition regulates relationships between men and women. Marriage is governed by Commonwealth Law, however, State and Territory governments can allow civil unions and have the constitutional power to recognise same sex relationships.
What amendments has the Federal Government proposed?
The amendments require couples who choose to have a ceremony to first notify the Office of Regulatory Services of their intention to hold a ceremony. Couples can also register their relationship, under existing ACT Laws, as a “civil partnership” with the Office of Regulatory Services.
What about the rights of same sex couples?
Recent legislative changes have given same sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in many areas including social security, taxation, Medicare, veteran’s affairs, worker’s compensation, educational assistance, superannuation, aged care, immigration, citizenship, family law and child support.
The same sex civil union legislation is a further step in extending the same rights to homosexual couples.