Yesterday, the Federal Government overwhelmingly voted against a Bill introduced into Parliament which, if passed would have seen same sex marriage legalised on a federal level. The Bill was defeated by 98 votes to 42. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd all voted against the Bill.
The debate was heated and emotive, with Finance Minister Penny Wong (whose partner gave birth to their child last year), commenting that she found it “hurtful” hearing the arguments by some Senators that the children of same-sex couples were worse off than those raised by heterosexual couples.
Ms Wong went further, saying that she does not regret having a child with her partner but that she does “regret that she lives in a world where some will tell her that her family is not normal. I regret that even in this chamber, elected representatives denigrate the worth of her family. I will not rest in the face of such prejudice. I want for her, for all of us, an Australia which is inclusive and respectful, and this is why this campaign will not end here.”
Notwithstanding the Federal stance on this position, Queensland remains one of the few states whereby same sex civil unions have been legalised. The legal recognition of same sex unions is in line with the Family Law Act’s recognition of the entitlement of same sex de facto partners to a division of assets accumulated during a relationship as well as a division of superannuation entitlements. Prior to 2009 whilst same sex partners in Queensland could seek the division of assets accumulated during a relationship under the Property Law Act, however superannuation interests were not considered “property” capable of division.
The Family Law Act also protects the role of same sex parents in disputes relating to children’s living arrangements after the end of a relationship. There are extensive definitions and provisions relating to children born as a result of artificial conception procedures designed to ensure that irrespective of genetic relationship, children with same sex parent’s will continue to have a relationship with both of their parents (provided that it is the child’s best interests to do so).
Provided that the Court is satisfied that both parents a child born of an artificial conception procedure consented to the procedure being carried out, the genetics and sexuality of a child’s parents is largely irrelevant.
If you or someone you know is or has been a part of a same sex relationship and needs advice on their rights and entitlements to property settlement or matters relating to the living arrangement of their children, please contact Attwood Marshall on 07 5536 9777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete an online enquiry form.