De facto relationships provide couples who are living together on a genuine domestic basis with many of the same rights and benefits as married couples. Two people can become a de facto couple by entering into a registered relationship i. Same Entitlements"  and an audit of Commonwealth i.
The reforms amended 85 Commonwealth laws to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in a wide range of areas. As a result of these reforms same-sex couples were treated equally with heterosexual couples under most areas of federal law. A person who had a same-sex de facto partner was treated as a single person.
The reforms ensured that same-sex couples were for the first time under Australian law recognised as a couple akin to opposite-sex partners. Consequently, a same-sex couple receives the same rate of social security and family assistance payments as an opposite-sex couple.
Under the Australian Constitution , the Federal Government only has certain enumerated powers, which under Section 51 xxi merely relate to "marriage". States would have to refer their residual powers to the Commonwealth to allow a national registered partnership, civil union or same-sex relationship scheme. Legislative history prior to de facto recognition[ edit ] In , amendments to the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act to allow tax free payment of superannuation benefits to be made to the surviving partner on an interdependent relationships, included same-sex couples, or a relationship where one person was financially dependent on another person.
For example, since the s, same-sex foreign partners of Australian citizens have been able to receive residency permits in Australia known as "interdependency visas". The Commission identified 58 Commonwealth law statutes and provisions that explicitly discriminate against same-gender couples by using the term 'member of the opposite sex'.
A de facto relationship must have ended for the court to make an order for property settlement or spousal maintenance, though this requirement does not exist for married couples.
By way of comparison, for a married couple, it is enough merely to have been married to attract the jurisdiction of the Court for property and spousal maintenance. In the event of an unexpected end to a de facto relationship such as death of a partner , the surviving partner must often prove the existence of a relationship in order to be registered as the next of kin on a death certificate and receive government bereavement payments and access to a partner's superannuation. These requirements vary on a state by state basis.
Given that, prior to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, same-sex couples did not have the option to marry, as heterosexual couples did, these discrepancies could have a particularly discriminatory impact on same-sex couples. In his ruling, the judge stated that "de facto relationship s may be described as "marriage-like" but it is not a marriage and has significant differences socially, financially and emotionally.
This can present difficulties when de facto relationships are legally contested by other people, usually other family members. Marriages rarely encounter such difficulties as they are generally regarded as immediate and incontrovertible. The Act defines marriage in Section 5 of the Act as "the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life".
History of same-sex marriage in Australia and Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey The Marriage Act was introduced in , and prior to did not explicitly define the legal meaning of the word "marriage". Section 46 1 of the Act, however, has always included a provision requiring celebrants to state the legal nature of marriage in Australia, viz.
Despite passing a resolution at the party's national conference in December to support same-sex marriage, the party held a conscience vote when a private member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage was debated in the Parliament in September The bill failed in the House of Representatives by 98 votes to 42 and was rejected by the Senate by 41 votes to Federal Parliament introduced the Marriage Act Cth.
The precise rights of states and territories with respect to creating state-based same-sex marriage laws was complicated further by the Howard Government amendment to the Marriage Act in to define marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.
The High Court ruled on the matter in December , five days after the first same-sex weddings were celebrated in the ACT, striking down the ACT's same-sex marriage law. However, if [New South Wales] chooses to exercise that power and enact a law for same-sex marriage, the law could be subject to challenge in the High Court of Australia"  and that no current arguments "present an absolute impediment to achieving state-based or Commonwealth marriage equality".
The state lower house passed same-sex marriage legislation by 13 votes to 11 in September , though the upper house subsequently voted against the legislation a few weeks later by 8 votes to 6.
Marriage and "matrimonial causes" are supported by sections 51 xxi and xxii of the Constitution. The legal status of marriage is also internationally recognised whereas the power to legislate for de facto relationships and their financial matters relies on referrals by states to the Commonwealth in accordance with Section 51 xxxvii of the Australian Constitution , where it states the law shall extend only to states by whose parliaments the matter is referred, or which afterward adopt the law.
This is in contrast to the Australian de facto and married regimes where all property is in the pool unless a couple actively opt out with a binding financial contract drawn up by lawyers and they also have to be resident in Australia to do that. The tribunal ordered that she be issued a passport listing her as female, in accordance with her other official documents, thereby recognising the existence of a marriage between two persons who are legally recognised as female.
It has been in effect since and governs the laws and regulations regarding lawful marriages in Australia. With respect to the recognition of same-sex unions, the Act has been amended in and Amendment Act [ edit ] On 27 May , the then federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock , introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill ,  intending to incorporate the-then common law definition of marriage into the Marriage Act The bill subsequently received royal assent , becoming the Marriage Amendment Act The amendment specified that marriage meant "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
The Family First senator supported the bill. The Australian Democrats also opposed the bill. Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett stated that the legislation devalues his marriage, and Greens Senator Bob Brown referred to John Howard and the legislation as "hateful". Bob Brown also quoted as Australia having a "straight Australia policy". Not all of Labor was in support of the bill. During the bill's second reading, Anthony Albanese , Labor MP for Grayndler said, "what has caused offence is why the Government has rushed in this legislation in what is possibly the last fortnight of parliamentary sittings.
This bill is a result of 30 bigoted backbenchers who want to press buttons out there in the community. Marriage Amendment Definition and Religious Freedoms Act Senator Dean Smith introduced into Parliament a private senator's bill to alter the definition of marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, after The bill passed the Senate by 43 votes to 12 on 29 November and passed the House of Representatives by votes to 4 on 7 December Under section 46 of the Marriage Act, a celebrant is required to say these words, or words to this effect, in every marriage ceremony.
Same-sex marriage in the Australian Capital Territory On 13 September , the Australian Capital Territory ACT Government announced that it would introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, following a decade-long attempt to legislate in the area. It will provide for solemnisation, eligibility, dissolution and annulment, regulatory requirements and notice of intention in relation to same-sex marriages. It was inconsistent both because its definition of marriage conflicted with that in the federal act and because the federal act was exclusive, leaving no room for any other definition in the legislation of a state or a territory.
However, the Court went on to determine that the word "marriage" in Constitution s51 xxi includes same-sex marriage, thus clarifying that there is no constitutional impediment to the Commonwealth legislating for same-sex marriage in the future.
Marriage statistics[ edit ] As of 1 June , six months after the legalisation of same-sex marriage, 2, same-sex weddings have taken place in Australia. From June to October , same-sex couples took advantage of this and married in British diplomatic offices across Australia.
Under federal law, they are treated as de facto relationships. Despite Australia having passed a federal same-sex marriage law, these schemes remain in place as an option for couples. Both schemes include state-sanctioned ceremonies that are similar to marriage ceremonies. Australian Capital Territory Main article: The Civil Union Act grants many of the same rights to same-sex couples as people married under the Marriage Act.
It was to be repealed and civil unions were to be no longer accessible to same-sex couples upon commencement of the Marriage Equality Same Sex Act , which if not struck down by the High Court would have permanently legalised same-sex marriage in the territory.
The state Parliament passed the Discrimination Law Amendment Act in December , which created non-discriminatory definitions of "de facto partner" with respect to 42 pieces of legislation. On 30 November , the Queensland Parliament passed a bill allowing civil partnerships in the state.
The legislation passed by a vote of 47 to 40, with those against including four votes from the Australian Labor Party. Following the state election , which saw Labor form minority government, the Parliament passed in December the Relationships Civil Partnerships and Other Acts Amendment Bill , which restored state-sanctioned ceremonies for same-sex and opposite-sex couples and once more changed regulations referring to "registered relationships" with "civil partnerships".
New South Wales Main article: In November , a bill was introduced to the Legislative Council to legalise same-sex marriage at a state level, thought it was narrowly defeated. The Parliament passed the Relationships Act on 10 April and came into effect on 1 December This may be prepared at any time and is legal from the time it is made, but must meet other requirements, such as joint commitments, before being recognised as domestic partners.