Two women embracing inside a rainbow flag

Will 2017 be the year we finally get marriage equality?

The fight for marriage equality in Australia rages on. But now that the plebiscite is (mercifully) defunct, what’s next?

Cass Mezups, 36, and Lara Hotz, 30, tied the knot in September 2015, after four years together. “We felt it was far more important to celebrate our love and commitment to each other when it suited us – not to wait for the law to change,” says Cass.

The Sydney couple plan to make their union legal someday, and hope 2017 will be the year. “To be finally recognised as equal members of our society and to be respected and accepted would mean the world to us,” says Cass.

“To be finally recognised as equal members of our society and to be respected and accepted would mean the world to us”Cass

With marriage equality (also commonly referred to as same-sex marriage and gay marriage*) being adopted in countries such as the US, Greenland and Ireland in the past two years, Australia’s stubborn refusal to allow all individuals the right to marry is becoming increasingly frustrating for the LGBTQI community.

Lara and Cass on their wedding day. © Dan O Day
Lara and Cass on their wedding day. © Dan O Day

“I honestly don’t believe it will happen anytime soon,” says Lucy Jackson, 29, from Sydney, who recently celebrated her union with long-term partner Amy, 31. “While [our politicians] keep operating in a way that separates us as human beings and keeps us out of sight and out of mind, nothing will ever change.”

A new hope post-Plebiscite

Although the plebiscite – a national poll proposed by the Federal Government on whether to legalise same-sex marriage – was an ill-conceived and discriminatory proposal, some good did come of it.

“In the government’s effort to get the plebiscite up, they released an exposure draft of a bill that would reform the Marriage Act to remove discrimination,” says Steph Cousins, Government Relations Manager at Amnesty International Australia.

Lucky for us, this bill (called the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex) Marriage Bill), is still on the table. The Senate is currently examining the bill, which includes replacing the definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” with “two people”, and may very well make marriage equality a reality in 2017.

“I think it has a very real possibility of going through,” adds Steph.

Could 2017 be the year?

Could marriage equality finally become a reality in 2017? Dr Shirleene Robinson, spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality, which is partnering with Amnesty International Australia in the Equality Campaign, thinks it’s a strong possibility.

“The leaders of both major political parties support marriage equality and there’s majority support in Parliament,” she says.

“It’s also clear that a majority of Australian people want this reform to happen. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before to achieving marriage equality and it’s important that people continue to work towards making it a reality in 2017.”

“We’re closer than we’ve ever been before to achieving marriage equality and it’s important that people continue to work towards making it a reality in 2017”Dr Robinson

What can you do to help?

It’s more important than ever to show your support for marriage equality.

“One of the most powerful actions that people can take to make marriage equality happen is to share their stories and the reasons why this reform is important to them with others,” says Dr Robinson.

Amy and Lucy celebrate their union and ask for marriage equality
Amy and Lucy celebrate their union

“We encourage people to talk to their friends, families and workmates about it. It’s also important for people to contact their MPs and senators to let them know they’d like to see Australia introduce marriage equality as soon as possible.”

According to Steph, this time is crucial for our voices to be heard.

“The Equality Campaign will be really critical to the success of the bill,” she says. “If they manage to create a groundswell at that time, it will be much easier for politicians from all sides to come out and say, ‘I’m willing to stand up for this’.”

You can find more resources and information on the Equality and Amnesty websites to let the government know that all Australians – no matter their gender identity, sexual orientation or intersex status – should be able to marry the person they love.

“For us, having the right to get married would mean peace and equality,” says Lucy. “Our children would grow up feeling equal. We know our love is real and we shouldn’t have to justify it to anyone.”

*Amnesty uses the term marriage equality because its more inclusive, respectful and represents the diversity within the LGBTQI community. ‘Gay marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’ refer to specific groups in the community but are not inclusive of everybody affected by Australia’s discriminatory marriage laws.

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Sabrina Rogers-Anderson, Guest Blogger

What supporters are saying

  1. Lucy
    9 February 2017 | 10:23 am

    everyone should be able to love freely, if the United States can get it legalised, so can we

  2. junior russell
    13 February 2017 | 1:27 pm

    im gay

  3. Courtney
    14 February 2017 | 11:58 am

    It would be really nice to have it in Australia, people should love who they want to love and if it is the same gender who the hell cares!!!

  4. Jemma
    16 February 2017 | 3:11 pm

    Same sex marriage should be legalised, let 2 people that love each other to be married

  5. Samantha Carlile
    4 March 2017 | 10:10 pm

    My name is Sam and im an Australian woman living in Finland. I was born in Nowra ,NSW and lived there my whole life until i met my partner in Sydney.

    I love her so much, she makes me a better me. She is the greatest source of love, acceptance, joy and kindness in my life. Two yeas ago i moved to Finland to be with her.

    I learnt Finnish language, i study in a Finnish trade school to be a chef (in finnish language) and i pay taxes here. We havent been back to Australia, my home, my family since i left 2 years ago.

    3 Days ago , 1 march 2017 Finland introduced gender neutral marriage (same sex marriage) Its definitely a victory for all.

    But I want to celebrate our commitments in my home country, in my culture, with my Family and my mates. I want my partner to feel that she has a place in our culture, our family and with our mates without the Australian government telling her otherwise.

    Marriage equality to me would mean returning home with my partner with the equal sense of security, safety, acceptance as my heterosexual mates downunder.

    I miss my family back home, i miss my language and culture, and as long as there isnt equal marriage in Australia its a barrier to me coming home, being with family and sharing my home, culture, language and homeland with my partner. She should get this right, the same way she has given it to me.

    We are currently planning to move to Australia but it all feels like such a risk, I know e could take these steps easier once the government does the right thing and introduce Marriage equality on the federal level.

    Missing you from the Cold,
    Samantha Carlile and Katariina Taleva

  6. Emily N
    8 March 2017 | 2:09 pm

    gay marriage should be legalized marriage isn’t about gender, its about LOVE!!!

  7. Anton Alexander
    8 May 2017 | 12:00 pm

    I am a 21 year old gay man with a simple life dream of moving to Australia, getting neutralised as a citizen, getting married to my future husband and owns a few dogs. When will I be able to live my dream?

  8. kate
    25 May 2017 | 9:21 am

    our school don’t allow gay

  9. Casper
    26 May 2017 | 12:26 pm

    please PLEASE can we make marriage equality happen I want more than anything to have the same rights as everyone else PLEASE I would do anything just be able to have equality for all

  10. Dana
    19 June 2017 | 7:24 pm

    How embarrassing that we haven’t done this already. It’s criminal. I’m heterosexual and I support marriage equality. I refuse to vote for anyone who doesn’t believe in equal rights, including marriage for non-heterosexuals.

  11. Craig
    8 July 2017 | 3:27 pm

    Australia’s coat of arms has the Kangaroo and the Emu – the reason being always moving forward. Its time that we move forward with equality of marriage in Australia. You can’t control who you fall in love with and who cares if two people are the same or opposite sex.

  12. Krystal
    17 July 2017 | 10:03 am

    im studying this subject for my English assessment and I find it horrible that this isn’t allowed. I have friends who are gay/bi/lesbian, same with family, and I fully support them. love is love and that’s it. its not hard to comprehend.

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