Sunday, August 2, 2009

Australia to Recognize Same-Sex Unions but Not Marriage; Nation Witnesses Historical Turn Out for Marriage Equality Demonstration

Australia's Labor Party has voted to recognize same-sex unions but was unable to go the final stretch and recognize these relationships as marriages due to LGBT organizations and allies being unable to get enough signatures for a resolution that would allow it. A system will be set up to register these couples and will most likely be done through civil unions. The Australian statistic bureau announced it would count these unions as marriages in the next census.

Despite the fact that 60% of Australians approve of full marriage equality, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has supported and helped pass anti-discrimination measures, has voiced opposition to the legalization of civil LGBT marriage based on his Anglican beliefs.

Rallies took place throughout Australia as the vote was being held, with supporters pouring out in historic numbers and organizers saying the turn out was around 8,000.

The Age reports:
Rainbow flags, wedding dresses, high heel boots and disco music were de rigueur in cities across Australia, as thousands of people rallied in support of same sex marriage.

More than 250 couples even tied the knot, albeit illegally, to mark the occasion.

More than 8,000 people took part in the national protests, organisers said.

In Melbourne there were roses, wedding veils and even a three-tiered cake. But the illegal wedding ceremony held on the steps of the city's registry office felt a little hollow for the 65 participants who bravely committed themselves to their life partners in front of thousands calling for same-sex marriage laws on Saturday.

Participant Kathy said the service was a step in the right direction but expressed frustration at the wait for legislative change.

"I guess it's a little bit sad that we still have to be here fighting for the chance to show our love for each other," she said.

"We're just people and we love each other.

"We want the same rights as anyone else."

But for Adrian and his French partner Romain, Australia's legal position on preserving nuptials for heterosexual couples has an immediate effect.

Romain's visa expires in a month but the pair cannot marry and remain in the same country in a committed relationship together under current law.

The couple will wed in France later in the year but the union will not be legally recognised when they return to Australia.

"I've had heterosexual friends in the same situation and it's been quite easy for them to resolve," Adrian said.

"It just makes you feel like you're not accepted wholly by society."

The service followed a colourful rally at Federation Square in central Melbourne, as almost 4,000 people draped in rainbow colours waved banners and balloons that read "Equal Love".
Equal Love, the campaign that lead up to the national day of action, wonderfully provided videos of the marches and of the rally in Federation Square.

Take a look at Equal Love's photostream.

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