The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is simply about civil law, not religious, law.
There are many confusing and erroneous arguments being put to support the NO campaign.
So let's be clear:
Voting YES for marriage equality
is NOT about freedom of speechChanging the Australian Marriage Act 1961 with a YES vote will not change any laws in relation to freedom of speech.
Other laws protect people from defamation (libel and slander) because words can hurt people, ruin their social standing, their ability to make money to support themselves and their families, their mental and physical health. Read more
Laws that govern any society are aimed at ensuring one person's behaviour is not harmful to another. When other people are harmed, this affects the community around them, and thus society as a whole.
So there is always a balance between allowing as much freedom as possible for one individual - provided that does not limit or harm the freedom of another individual. If you believe that our laws related to defamation are too strict, then lobby your democratic representatives about that specific issue.
is NOT about 'political correctness'"Political correctness" has got a lot of press lately. Because words can hurt people, many community programs have tried to use language that is fairer, more inclusive and kinder.
Being kinder in our speech is good for relationships and communities, and does not stop us having opinions, nor being able to freely express those, unless we are wanting to incite hate.
Hate speech is not acceptable if we want a cohesive, relaxed and peaceful society.
is NOT about what any or all religions considers 'marriage' to beSome religions allow the marriage of children and some have very specific and restrictive roles for men and women that would not be supported by Australian law and/or values.
Even so, the Australian Marriage Act authorises 120 Recognised Religions (22,882 ministers as at 15.9.2017) and 500 religious organisations (524 ministers as at 15.9.2017) to also conduct marriages on behalf of the Australian government. This compares with 8188 independent civil celebrants and 293 state officers (15.9.2017).
With almost 2/3rds of marriage celebrants in Australia being religious celebrants authorised under law, it is clear that religious tolerance is very well practiced by Australia.
is NOT about people's sexual practices in the privacy of their own bedroomsAustralia has a number of laws related to sexual behaviour. Like most laws, these have changed over time. However, the underlying basic principle upon which these are now based is: Sexual behaviour between consenting adults in private is not the business of the government.
This principle underpins many laws related to sexual behaviour e.g. rape (even in marriage), child-adult sexual behaviour, sexual behaviour in public, sexual behaviour with animals, and so on.
Changing the Australian Marriage Act 1961 with a YES vote will not change any of these laws in relation to sexual behaviour of Australians.
is NOT about how children are parentedChanging the Australian Marriage Act 1961 with a YES vote will not change any laws related to the raising of children.
In fact, there are no requirements under the Australian Marriage Act that married couples have children, and no sections in relation to how children should be raised.
Death or disability or default by the biological parents means there are many examples where children have been raised by single parents, and/ or by siblings, or other extended family members or even by strangers, without major harm.
For example: In many post war situations, these were households with those providing parenting being of the same sex. e.g. a mother, aunt and grandmother; or father and two brothers.
is NOT about how children are educated in the schools systemChanging the Australian Marriage Act 1961with a YES vote will not change any laws related to the education of children.
How children are educated in the schools in Australian states and territories is a complex inter-play of government laws, funding, the nature of the schools (private or public), parents and other community members.
Sex education has been a contentious topic in previous eras, and is likely to continue to be whether same-sex marriage is made legal or not.
None of the above issues are valid reasons to vote NO to marriage equality.
Do that mean voting YES will have no effects ?
Voting YES for marriage equality will have some effects beyond this simple legal change.
Granting same sex couples the same legal rights to a legal contract that treats their couple relationship exactly the same as heterosexual couples will:
- reduce discrimination against individuals who are same-sex attracted
- increase respect and tolerance of other people who are different from ourselves, which is important for social cohesiveness and well-being of all people.
- enable society to focus more clearly on behaviours that are harmful to others, rather than stereotyping certain individuals or groups of people by unfairly associating harmful behaviours with them.