US Marriage Equality Laws a Sign of Things to Come in Australia

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When some of the most staunchly conservative states in the US allow same-sex marriage before Australia does, you know something weird is going on.

Thanks to a decision by the US Supreme Court earlier this month, the US is moving swiftly towards allowing marriage equality nationwide.

The ruling effectively allows same-sex marriage in five more US states, bringing the total number of states that support same sex marriage to 24. The court hearing related to appeals brought to the Supreme Court requesting that it uphold the bans on same-sex marriage in the five states of Indiana, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The bans on same-sex marriage in those states have been deemed unconstitutional.

Nineteen US states had previously recognised marriage equality, after the Supreme Court last year ruled that under federal law, married same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights and privileges as heterosexual ones.

A further five more states could also soon allow same-sex marriage after regional federal appeals court rulings struck down bans in North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Kansas.

Public support for marriage equality in the US stands at 55 percent according to a May 2014 Gallup poll. This is significantly less than the 72 percent who support it in Australia. As we highlighted last week, more Australians support same-sex marriage than ever before.

The move within the US to legalise same-sex marriage has positive implications for Australia. In particular, it puts pressure on Australian politicians to heed public calls for changes to the legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Later this month, Marriage Equality Australia will hold a special screening of the US documentary The Case Against 8 for select members of parliament in a bid to highlight the social and political issues surrounding same-sex marriage.

The documentary follows two same-sex couples and their legal team who took their case all the way to the US Supreme Court in a bid to overrule California’s Proposition 8, which added a new provision to the state’s Declaration of Rights that defined marriage as only “between a man and a woman”.

The event will also feature a video link up with former US Solicitor General Ted Olsen, the Republican lawyer who got George W Bush elected by making Florida stop its decisive recount and who was a key member of the legal team that overturned Proposition 8.

DDCS Lawyers is proud to be supporting this event to highlight the importance of allowing marriage equality in Australia.