Media Release: Thursday, 30 March, 2006

The Executive Chairman of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), Jim Wallace, supports warnings by the Federal Attorney General, Hon Phillip Ruddock, to ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope that the Civil Unions Bill is in conflict with the Federal Marriage Act 1961. Mr Stanhope will either face a Federal Government willing to over ride the legislation or the Bill will need to be scrapped.

“Mr Jon Stanhope has clearly admitted that the aim of the Civil Union Bill is to make a civil union equivalent to marriage to the extent of having Federal Marriage Celebrants perform the ceremony, public declarations and a signing of the register in front of witnesses,” said Mr Wallace. “Marriage is very clearly defined as between one man and one women and with the Bill recognising overseas same-sex marriages he has overstepped Territorial jurisdiction.”

“Mr Stanhope could have easily established a same sex register as currently exists in Tasmania which satisfies a same sex couples desire to be formally recognised but does not conflict with Federal marriage laws. However, attempting a Civil Union option, which so clearly mimics marriage, has provoked the Federal Government and the general public to rightly voice concern,” claimed Mr Wallace.

Same sex couples can be formally recognised via a registration model, as proposed in the ACT Recognition of Same Sex Relationships Discussion Paper 2005, instead of establishing a new parallel ‘marriage like’ civil union, which is unconstitutional.

Contact: Jim Wallace