Queensland has been debating introducing civil unions for a few months now. Tonight the Legislative Assembly will debate and vote on the Queensland Labor proposed Civil Partnerships Bill. If it passes, the legislation will same-sex and heterosexual couples to formally register their relationships with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
A registered relationship under the Act
(should it pass) will benefit from a amendments to other legislation that will address inconsistencies and prejudices against particularly same sex relationships. Some of the big ones the Act will amend including the Public Trustee Act 1978, the Succession Act 1981 and the Surrogacy Act 2010. While it’s not non-discriminatory marriage, it’s a step in the right direction. As Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser (State Member for Mount Coot-tha) said, ”What we’re doing here in Queensland is going as far as we can as a state to provide for a quality of recognition of relationships in order to access the sort of rights that many people take for granted.”
As I have always argued, I support same-sex marriage. As a lawyer I am a firm believer that if the law grants right to one group of people it should grant the same rights to all groups across the board in the same way. It’s not because I really want to get married (to a man), but because I want the right to decide who I am/not marrying. At the moment if i decide to/not to marry a woman the law doesn’t care, but if the biological sex of the person I am considering marrying I have no choice: in Australia marriage is still sex-descriptive and therefore I can only marry certain kinds of people.
Undoubtedly the LNP and most of the independents will vote against the bill. And given Premier Anna Bligh (State Member for South Brisbane) has given Labor a conscience vote the vote on the bill will probably be close. Will be interesting to see who will cross the floor on this one.
UPDATE 10.57 PM AEST (11.57 PM AEDST) There’s quite a buzz about Independent Peter Wellington‘s (State Member for Nicklin) rousing address to the chamber where he slammed the Australian Families Association for threatening to campaign against any MP who voted for civil unions. “I will vote for what I think is right and just and I will not be intimidated,” he said, “I will support this bill.” Good on you Wellington!
Since I can’t see the live stream from the Legislative Assembly chamber on the Queensland Parliament website, I’ve been following the
#civilunion feed on Twitter and my friend Daniel Hurst’s reportage on BrisbaneTimes.com.au.
UPDATE 11.08 PM AEST (12.08 PM AEDST) The Bill has passed; 47 votes for and 40 against! While there was plenty of chatter about the successful vote on Twitter, this was the tweet that really mattered:
TheQldPremier Premier Anna BlighSame Sex Civil Union Bill passes Qld Parliament YES-47 NO-40
#CivilUnion – here’s to LOVE, most powerful force in universe!
It’s worth also noting that Jo Ann Miller (State Member for Bundamba), Michael Choi (State Member for Capalaba), Geoff Wilson (State Member for Ferny Grove) and Margaret Keech (State Member for Albert) all voted against the Bill. Conscience votes are really important, member should be free to cross the floor in the interests of their electorate (although it seems many of them cross for more self-motivated or self-interested reasons). I guess as a supporter of conscience votes it’s only natural that sometimes the way some cross the floor won’t be the way I personally want the vote to go, but I reiterate conscience votes are really important.
♺ Queensland’s civil unions debate blow by blow Daniel Hurst on BrisbaneTimes.com.au, 30 November 2011. ★ Electoral Commission of Queensland electorate maps: State District of Mount Coot-tha, State District of South Brisbane, State District of Nicklin. →
#civilunion hashtag feed.