Why TCN supports marriage equality - video
TCN supports YES to change in the legal definition of marriage:
- Marriage is a civil legal contract, not a religious one. Equal access to a legal contract for all couples upholds the Australia values of a fair go
TCN Inc does take a clear stand on Marriage Equality. TCN is a non-profit incorporated association with a Constitution based on democratic principles and a philosophy upholding human rights and the role of civil ceremony in a multicultural society.
- Religions and religious celebrants are already given the right to legally marry couples under their church rites i.e. Religious i.e. Religious Tolerance
Note: Under Section 47, all religious celebrants are currently exempted from marrying couples who do not share their beliefs
- TCN supports Celebrants Equality - TCN recommends modified Sections 45 and 46 apply to all couples and all celebrants, and that as professionals in private practice, civil celebrants should have the right as other professionals, to choose with whom they will offer their services, and to refer on those couples that they assess would be better served by another celebrant.
Historical and Legal Context
Once upon a time, people were discriminated against for being female, married, red-headed, left-handed etc. Today we understand how ignorant our forebears were to hold such views. Likewise what will our great grand-children think of us as regards sexual orientation?
Civil celebrants and the public need to be knowledgeable about our own history and our own laws, and the way the current Marriage Act discriminates against civil couples and civil celebrants, to be able to present these positions above as sensible and practical for All Australians regardless of their religious beliefs.
Whether you are a celebrant or not, support the TCN Inc position on Marriage Equality and Celebrants Equality by joining our network as non-celebrant affiliates or as celebrants.
Marriage Equality means expanding the definition of marriage in Section 46 to 'the union of two consenting adults entered into voluntarily for life", not calling same sex marriage by a different name such as "civil union" which does not mean equality at all.
The TCN Inc's Submissions on Marriage Equality recommended this be the definition of marriage with the age status to be the same as at present. See: TCN Inc Submission Marriage Equality Bills and TCN Inc submission Marriage Equality Bills - Supplementary.
The TCN Inc acknowledges that marriage is a changing institution as our cultures become more knowledgeable, civilised and humane.
The most important thing to understand is that in 1961 Australia could have gone the way of France and not allowed any religious celebrants to perform legal state sanctioned marriage.
In fact, Peter Norden, Vice Chancellor's Fellow, in the Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne, argued that this was one option for resolving the Marriage Equality issue.
Instead, as marriage had been performed by churches and registry offices under state law prior to Federation, Australia did grant the existing religious institutions the right to perform legal state sanctioned marriage.
That is, the state granted the churches the right to perform legal marriages, not the churches granting the state that right.
This is so, because in Western tradition, marriage was a secular (civil) function with the churches only getting involved in the last few centuries!
Understanding the history (or her-story) of marriage in Western culture is vitally important because marriage is not, nor has it been, the property of the churches.
Marriage is the property of the 'state' i.e. owned by the citizens of a country.
By granting religious celebrants the right to perform legal state sanctioned marriage, Australia practiced religious tolerance by allowing this, and continues to do so.
This is evidenced by looking at the religious groups that have been added to this list since 1961.
Under the Australian Marriage Act, there are over
- 120 Recognised Religions (22,828 as at 15.9.2017)
- 500 religious organisations (524 as at 15.9.2017)
with ministers are authorised to also contact marriages on behalf of the Australian government.
This compares with 8188 independent civil celebrants and 293 state officers at 15.9.2017.
That is almost 2/3rds of marriage celebrants authorised by the Australian government to marry on behalf of the state are in fact religious celebrants.
There are many countries where religions are not given these rights.
It is clear that religious tolerance is already well practised by Australia.
Religious groups need to grant the same religious tolerance to civil celebrants and couples for those people who do not accept a religion's rejection of basic human rights as dictated by their faith. (i.e. discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc).
- Section 47
Marriage Act 1961 Section 47 Ministers of religion not bound to solemnize marriage etc.
Nothing in this Part:
(a) imposes an obligation on an authorized celebrant, being a minister of religion, to solemnize any marriage; or
(b) prevents such an authorized celebrant from making it a condition of his or her solemnizing a marriage that:
(i) longer notice of intention to marry than that required by this Act is given; or
(ii) requirements additional to those provided by this Act are observed.
Whilst this guarantees that religious celebrants may only marry couples who share the same religious beliefs, this also effectively allows discrimination on any basis the church choose such as marital status i.e. not marrying divorced people. And making extra demands such as relationship education or whatever other promises the religion requires.
To allow religious tolerance means accepting the churches right to marry only those couples it chooses, not to have religions dictate their definition of marriage to others in a civil society