The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Turning the tables

Whatever the whys and wherefores of same-sex marriage, it seems it's set to remain high on the agenda of many GLBT activists in Australia. Protests, demos and polite letter-writing are the typical forms of campaigning – from Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH)'s national day of action, to Peter Furness and his partner conducting sit-ins at the Australian Tax Office, in a bid to persuade the government to recognise them as a married couple and afford them relevant benefits.

All these are legitimate lobbying tactics. Meanwhile in the US, our activist counterparts are getting very creative and playing the same-sex marriage naysayers at their own game. The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance (WA-DOMA), according to its website "seeks to defend equal marriage in the state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court's ruling on Andersen v. King County". This decision, handed down in July 2006, declared that a "legitimate state interest" allows the legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this "legitimate state interest," it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage.

WA-DOMA is working to put the court's ruling into law. Yes, you read that right. The group plans to do this through three in initiatives: the first would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage; the second would prohibit divorce or legal separation when there are children; and the third would make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony. WA-DOMA admits its actions are "very absurd", but adds that "We hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstitutional and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric." Quite.

The initiative, which was accepted by the Secretary of State and assigned the serial number 957 last month, proposes to add the phrase "who are capable of having children with one another" to the legal definition of marriage. It requires that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled, and couples married out of state must file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as 'unrecognised'. The proposed measure also requires the setting-up of a process for filing proof of procreation and would make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognised marriage to receive marriage benefits.

Pretty cool, I reckon. And at least they're taking aim at the enemy and not calling security on each other as did the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby to Community Action Against Homophobia over the waving of same-sex marriage banners on one of the biggest gay days of the year…

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