I am a Canadian who is married to her Australian partner in Canada; however, we live in Australia where there is no recognition of that, and it is (to say the least) mildly unsettling. We could move to Canada, where our marriage is recognised, but we are here, in part, to be close to my partner’s family, some of whom have health issues, and moving overseas would defeat that purpose.
Our marriage has been recognised by a sovereign state of the Commonwealth. It is unfortunate that another member-state of the same Commonwealth, Australia, refuses to recognise the authority of another, Canada, over not only its own citizens, but of Australian citizens present inside and/or residing within Canada at the time of marriage.
I am a permanent resident and plan to become an Australian citizen as soon as I am permitted to, early next year. I really do love my new home. I just wish that my partner and I did not have to fly to the other side of the planet to be able to walk down the street in confidence that should anything happen to one of us, the other will have the ultimate authority to decide how matters proceed, without legal quarrel, family intervention, or governmental contempt.
That is why marriage matters.
That is why it is so very important to us that our marriage be recognised inside Australia, and that is why it is important that all Australians be similarly given the right to give authority over themselves to another regardless of what gender they are, which is what marriage provides.
It is not just a ‘ceremony’ or an ‘institution’ and those who attempt to diminish the rights and responsibilities marriage enshrines upon those who choose to enter in such a union are merely seeking to deny members of society for whom they have a personal disdain from having the same rights they themselves presently enjoy.
The right to assign automatic, undisputed next-of-kin authority to the one you love is really what we are asking for here — not merely the right to have a ceremony, although ceremonies are important sometimes — and unless the Government removes automatic next-of-kin from the Marriage Act and places it into the auspices of ‘Civil Unions’, no matter what the gender of those who register their intentions, there can be no true legal equality as long as some people can enter into such a relationship and others can not.
My partner and I love each other very much. We each wish the other to have the ultimate authority over ourselves. If we approach the government and declare that, they should accept our wishes. By not doing so, we are unequal in the eyes of the law to others. How is this fair?
tl;dr: Marriage provides legal next-of-kin rights that common-law couples don’t enjoy.