TYING THE PINK KNOT: PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN AUSTRALIA

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					Gay & Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2009



TYING THE PINK KNOT: PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN AUSTRALIA

BEN WALKER


                     Abstract                                    laws that discriminated against same-sex cou-
                                                                 ples through deletion of specifically heterosex-
The 2008 amendments to eliminate all legal                       ual phrases such as “member of the opposite
discrimination against same-sex couples rep-                     sex”. Consequently, the law now treats same-
resent a substantial milestone in Australia’s                    sex couples equally regarding employment,
gay and lesbian history. Yet despite these                       worker’s compensation, tax, social security,
gains, Australia continues to lag behind other                   veteran’s entitlements, health care costs, fam-
countries with historically more conservative                    ily law, superannuation, aged care, migration
politics than Australia in granting marriage                     and so forth (Human Rights and Equal Oppor-
rights to gay and lesbian people (.e.g., South                   tunity Commission, 2007).
Africa and Spain). This commentary provides a
brief overview of the psychological literature                   My personal view, and that of the Gay and
related to marriage for gay and lesbian people                   Lesbian Rights Lobby who organised the “58
and highlights the almost unanimous support                      08” campaign (Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby,
it offers in support of same-sex marriage. Spe-                  2008), is that this legislative change repre-
cifically, the literature suggests that same-sex                 sents a substantive milestone and vital step on
relationships are typically positive and suppor-                 the road toward achieving other rights for les-
tive, that many same-sex couples have similar                    bians and gay men, namely same-sex mar-
aspirations to marry as do heterosexual cou-                     riage in Australia. I was, however, surprised
ples, and that not allowing marriage therefore                   that these amendments received scant
holds the potential to elicit negative psycho-                   (mainstream or gay and lesbian) media atten-
logical affects. Nevertheless, it is also recog-                 tion, or alternatively, little backlash from so-
nised that issues remain in the quest for same                   cially conservative groups, especially consider-
-sex marriage, primarily because some gay                        ing the fact that these laws represent a u-turn
and lesbian couples have flexibility in their                    from the low-point four years previously,
relationship beyond a dyadic, life-long, mo-                     when the previous Liberal government passed
nogamous relationship, which counters the                        its Marriage Amendment Bill 2004. Similar to
traditional concept of marriage as a commit-                     the US Defence of Marriage Act, the then Aus-
ment between two people.                                         tralian government amended the gender non-
                                                                 specific Marriage Act 1961 to designate mar-
Key words: marriage, Australia, psychology                       riage as “between a man and a woman”. As
                                                                 opposed to the unanimous support for the
                  Introduction                                   2008 bill, only six senators voted against the
                                       
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The 2008 amendments to eliminate all legal discrimination against same-sex couples represent a substantial milestone in Australia's gay and lesbian history. Yet despite these gains, Australia continues to lag behind other countries with historically more conservative politics than Australia in granting marriage rights to gay and lesbian people (.e.g., South Africa and Spain). This commentary provides a brief overview of the psychological literature related to marriage for gay and lesbian people and highlights the almost unanimous support it offers in support of same-sex marriage. Specifically, the literature suggests that same-sex relationships are typically positive and supportive, that many same-sex couples have similar aspirations to marry as do heterosexual couples, and that not allowing marriage therefore holds the potential to elicit negative psychological affects. Nevertheless, it is also recognised that issues remain in the quest for same -sex marriage, primarily because some gay and lesbian couples have flexibility in their relationship beyond a dyadic, life-long, monogamous relationship, which counters the traditional concept of marriage as a commitment between two people. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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