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Marriage (Privatisation) Act 2015

By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Friday, 29 May 2015

On Wednesday Fairfax Media reported that "Labor leader Bill Shorten will ratchet up the pace on same-sex marriage next week, forcing his own party and the Parliament to deal with the issue quickly via a private member's bill to be co-sponsored by his deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek".

Smart folk those two. They'll do anything to shift the media's focus away from Islamic terrorism and towards a topic they preferaddressing.

To many, after the recent raids by state and federal law enforcement agencies on terror suspects in good ol' Labor seats in NSW and Victoria, Shorten and Plibersek must find it awfully hard to reconcile their party's nurturing of the Islamic vote over decades and Plibersek's documented anti-Jewish bigotry - seemingly straight out of the Arab Lobby's playbook - with a "tough guy" policy on those Muslims who hate us infidels for who we are and what we do.


Hence the: "Terror raids, really? Move along, nothing to see here" strategy.

To others, championing gay marriage reeks not of principled policy on the part of Labor, but rather a two-faced attempt to strip voters away from the Greens and entice them back into the Labor faux-green fold. Really.

After all, only a few short years ago Ms Plibersek was crystal clear in her opposition to same sex marriage, writing for Fairfax on 21 March 2007 "Labor does not support changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage".

Before any bill will be seriously considered, the public should brace for a wave of disparate views to be ventilated. If the United States experience is any guide, advocates of the novel concept of "privatising marriage" will soon raise their heads locally above the parapet.

Marriage reform is often woven with an agenda for social change. In bygone days, objections to bans on interracial marriage were tethered to political movements beating the drums of racial equality. In the undeveloped world today, marriage reformers want to expand the rights and liberty of girls and women, while in the developed world, their primary aim is to advance social equality for non-heterosexuals.
Laurie Shrage, professor of philosophy at Miami's Florida International University wrote in the New York Times that several prominent legal and political theorists in the United States - such as Cass Sunstein, Richard Thaler and Martha Fineman, propose that the institution of marriage be, of all things, privatised.

These theorists are not seeking to move gays into the marriage barn as it were, but prefer to shunt heterosexuals already married out of the barn and into the inoffensive wide-open paddock called as "civil union" or "domestic partnership." The state would then recognise and regulate civil unions rather than civil marriage. Folks "tying the knot" would be "civilly united" and not "married"


Those seeking religious imprimatur could still avail themselves to a house of worship, be it a church, mosque, synagogue etc, but none of those ceremonies would be recognised by the Crown.

The argument runs along the following lines: government has no business regulating marriage, which is fundamentally a religious practice. Its interest should lie in promoting private care giving responsibilities within families: the care of the young, the old, the ill and the disabled.

The government, it is asserted, would more efficiently pursue a focus on care giving by non-governmental means by establishing and regulating civil unions and steering clear of defining, interfering with or regulating "marriage." Forms of "civil unions" will be myriad in number. They include heterosexual couples, same sex couples, romantically involved couples, romance-free (platonic) couples etc.

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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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