United States

Jul 25, 2011

Gay marriage honeymoon a smokescreen of lingering inequality

Hundreds of same-s-x couples rushed to be the first to marry in New York. But that win bears no resemblance to equality-focused gay rights moves in Australia and other advanced societies.

Some of the 823 same-s-x couples who entered the lottery to wed in New York on Sunday chose not to wait until dawn. Niagara Falls’ famous cascades were lit up in rainbow lights as grandmothers Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd said their vows in the minutes after midnight.

It was as if America was thumbing its nose back at Canada, who beat them to marriage equality six years earlier.

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4 thoughts on “Gay marriage honeymoon a smokescreen of lingering inequality

  1. Peter Evans

    I am confused. Obviously there’s no reason same sex couples should not have the same rights to marry as anyone else. No question.

    But I haven’t read one iota questioning why it is that being married should confer all sorts of legal and financial advantages to anyone. In Australia there’s very marginal tangible benefits to marriage, which I think is a good thing. But in the US, there’s a swag of tax benefits, as well as health insurance, crapola that happens in the event to death, and other benefits, and I am sort of amazed that there’s been no general discussion of why those benefits exist, and whether they should exist. Does everyone just think it’s a good thing?

    I like how in Australia, marriage is pretty much just a claim you register with a state government department that you intend to stay with one other person for the rest of your life. That’s as it should be – a private, personal contract that effectively exists outside of the contracts and torts that permeate so much else of life. And a good excuse for a party. There are plenty of people who seem to need some authoratorial blessing from a religious organisation and that’s their business.

    But I just don’t get why, clearly, many people around the world think it’s a good thing that marriage confers all sorts of financial advantages.

  2. johnb78

    Re the original article, while I strongly support the legalisation of gay marriage in all Australian states on symbolic grounds, it’s notable that the federal government already recognises de-facto gay relationships for immigration purposes. Particularly given the lack of benefits to married couples in the Australian tax system, that’s a far more important victory than the right to register a piece of paper with the government.

    Peter: People who are wealthier and have stronger relationships in the first place are more likely to get married than people who do not. This in turn means that they are less likely to break up with each other, and that their children (whether the parents stay together or break up) are likely to have better outcomes than the children of parents who were never married. Conservatives think that this means we’d be better off if we bribed people who otherwise wouldn’t marry to do so. They are wrong, but people are notoriously bad at telling correlation apart from causation.

  3. william magnusson

    well good on em i think….i suppose the race will be on to see who gets the first gay divorce now????

  4. Harley Dennett

    Peter: Modern governments put penalties on being single in the same fashion it puts penalties on being a smoker. As John said, it’s screwed up reasoning, but a conscious decision of governments and I hardly think it goes unquestioned by the public. Certainly I hear complaints from my single friends every May Budget tax shakeup. Military family entitlements have a slightly longer and more complicated history but essentially no greater logic.

    Despite the focus (and push) for marriage in the US, it a question being asked in the LGBT community too: http://www.beyondmarriage.org/

    John: I agree. However, there are gaps in Australia’s de facto laws that don’t quite cover all the benefits of marriage, but they are largely in areas that the Australian government has little or no control over: like diplomatic arrangements. Then there’s the lack of control over when de facto recognition kicks in, which affects military, bi-national and international couples. A married bi-national couple will have a far easier time migrating to Australia than an unmarried one. The MRT and RRT quasi-judicial bodies make it decidedly harder on certain family types and have often displayed a degree of ignorance and anti-gay sentiment in rulings. Marriage might change that. Plus, symbolism does have its benefits… like for the kids.

    William: The first same-sex couple to marry in Massachusetts has already divorced. At least they can. Unfortunate gay married couples who move to Texas aren’t even allowed to get a divorce under their 2005 constitutional amendment.

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