Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On same-sex civil unions

A few weeks back, Brokenleg posted about an independent parliamentarianism's attempt to introduce a bill recognising same-sex civil unions in Victoria, which was promptly knocked on the head by the Bracks government. Now it emerges that the ACT government is proposing to introduce legislation recognising same-sex civil unions there.

On principle, and as a supporter of same-sex marriage, I don't agree with civil unions. If they won't grant couples the same rights and privileges that marriage couples enjoy, then how is this any less discriminatory than the current situation. If they will grant couples the same rights and privileges that are granted to married couples, then you would simply end up with unnecessary duplication. There would really, in the latter case, be no qualitative difference between (state-sanctioned) marriage and (state-sanctioned) civil unions, except for the trifling matter that the one would be limited to heterosexual unions and the other would not--a situation as plainly ridiculous as having heterosexuals and homosexuals fill out different income tax forms each year.

But that's on principle. In practice, as a supporter of same-sex marriage*, I can't shake the feeling that the ACT moves are a good start.

UPDATE: It looks as if the Federal Government, staunch defender of individual sovereignty and choice that it is, is going to override the Bill--or at least force the ACT Government into watering down the proposed civil union legislation.

* By "marriage," I'm referring strictly to the legal apparatus--the marriage that the state recognises and that involves as a marker of this recognition the signing of a legal document known as a marriage certificate. I believe that denying this particular legal document to same-sex couples is just as discriminatory as it would be to deny them any other legal document. Basically, this is an issue of equality before the law: and the current situation is, therefore, unjust.