Media Release: Wednesday, 4 June, 2008

More thought is needed in framing changes to public sector superannuation laws to ensure the distinctiveness of marriage is maintained in legislative definitions and terminology, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said today.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the Federal Government’s bill to provide equal treatment for same-sex couples in accessing superannuation benefits should be extended to include certain non-sexual interdependent relationships. The term marriage should also be retained, along with husband, wife and spouse.

“ACL would like to see more detailed analysis of this legislation to ensure that it doesn’t tamper with definitions of marriage and family and to examine the merits of addressing discrimination in superannuation laws against those in other types of interdependent relationships,” Mr Wallace said.

“We are not opposed to addressing unfair discrimination against same-sex couples in superannuation laws, but are adamant about protecting in legislation the distinctiveness of marriage and its associated definitions and terminology.” Mr Wallace said that the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – Superannuation) Bill 2008 rolls all relationships into one new category of ‘couple relationship’ and replaces references to husband and wife with references to a ‘partner’.

He said there seems to be a growing trend towards removing long-established marriage and family terminology from legislation and this needs to be fiercely opposed.

“For example there is also legislation before the NSW Parliament which would effectively dismiss fathers from some children’s birth certificates and also replace references to fathers and mothers with references to ‘either parent’,” Mr Wallace said.

“If we are to value the distinctiveness of marriage in society we must first maintain that distinction in legislation,” Mr Wallace said.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan