I read this article at Rodney Croome's blog, saw it again at the Australian Coalition for Equality website, went to the original news article and finally printed it out to make sure I had it right. Most, if not all, couples who choose a celebrant to marry them do so because they aren't religious, don't want it in a church and want to write their own very personal vows. They want words that relate to them and how they want to live their life together. Now this stickybeak government is making sure that heterosexual marriages conform to their traditional idea of husband and wife.
I quote, "In a series of edicts to civil celebrants that overturn at least 30 years of accepted practice, the Attorney-General's Department insists couples must exchance vows only as "husband" and "wife". Celebrants must also remind everyone that "marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman". Attorney-General Philip Rubbish, er, sorry, Ruddock just wants to make sure civil celebrants understand their legal obligations.
Kim Power, a celebrant and lecturer in civil ceremonies at Monash University says it's about shaping the cultural imagination. It means that every time you go to a marriage ceremony, from the time you're a flower girl to the time you're a grandmother, it will be re-inforcing the message that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.
Under the Marriage Act, each party must take the other "to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband) or words to that effect. "Partner" could be subsituted once but not anymore. "Spouse is acceptable but partner does not necessarily signify marriage. This is according to guidelines issued in November, 2005.
Celebrants are toeing the government line in case the marriages they perform are declared invalid. They must also remind the bride and groom that "marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman". The words " people" or "persons" in place of "man" and "woman" cannot be used " as this could signify two people of the same sex".
The vow "I take you as my partner in marriage" is no longer acceptable. If I was daft enough to marry again, I would be saying "I take you as my partner in life" and damn the illegality.
This goes with the government's thinking about compulsory courses before getting a marriage licence. Their thoughts of legislating compulsory counselling sessions before the 'no fault' (how long before they touch that) divorce which can only add to the trauma.
This is not just re-inforcing the idea of marriage between a man and a woman. It's the government and it's religious backers thumbing their noses at the gay community. Rubbing it in that they're 2nd class citizens again. Putting across their message that gays and lesbians can't have long lasting relationships so why bother letting them have a legal ceremony.
Once again the government is making laws, guidelines and decrees in my name without asking me. It looks like another round of letters going out and this time I hope someone has the manners to reply to this now swinging voter.