Mar­riage equal­ity is not just about love – it’s also about il­ll­ness and death

Galston, Glenorie and Hills Rural News - - Letters To The Editor -

All of the ar­gu­ments for mar­riage equal­ity be­ing made by the ‘ Yes’ cam­paign­ers are hugely valid, but for me, the big­gest is­sue is the dif­fer­ence it will make dur­ing sit­u­a­tions of ill­ness and death – that’s crunch time.

We know that in Aus­tralia, there are few dif­fer­ences be­tween the le­gal rights of de facto part­ners and mar­ried part­ners – how­ever, there is one big dif­fer­ence and that is re­lated to who is ‘next of kin’. There is no clear def­i­ni­tion and it dif­fers from state to state.

While de facto part­ners are recog­nised by law, they are not air­tight. Should a per­son in a de facto re­la­tion­ship be placed in hos­pi­tal for what­ever rea­son, and their sig­nif­i­cant other is not recog­nised as an emer­gency con­tact, the hos­pi­tal may not con­sider the non-in­jured part­ner as next of kin and pos­si­bly not al­low them to even visit the hos­pi­tal bed, let alone make es­sen­tial de­ci­sions. This is not the case for mar­ried cou­ples.

It is up to the non-in­jured de facto part­ner to prove their re­la­tion­ship. At such times of emo­tional stress, this is clearly not prac­ti­cal, and ab­so­lutely to­tally un­fair.

Take my re­la­tion­ship for ex­am­ple. My part­ner, Fiona, and I have been to­gether for 12 years. Our chil­dren, who are mine from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship (a mar­riage, also of 12 years), live with us per­ma­nently and have done so for many years. Fiona, for all in­tents and pur­poses, has co-par­ented these chil­dren for 12 years – both fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally. We have a shared mort­gage, in­vest­ment prop­erty, bank ac­counts, etc. We are both univer­sity ed­u­cated, work full-time in pro­fes­sional jobs, pay taxes, do­nate to char­ity and gen­er­ally do our bit to con­trib­ute to our so­ci­ety.

Our chil­dren, now 19 and 16, have been co-par­ented by Fiona for the ma­jor­ity of their lives, they re­fer to her as ‘Mum’ and choose to live with us 100% of the time – a choice they make be­cause of the love, the sup­port and the care they re­ceive in our house­hold.

How­ever, should I be in­jured in a car ac­ci­dent, for ex­am­ple, and be placed on life-sup­port, my mother and my sib­lings (who are mostly con­ser­va­tive in their views) would have more say over what hap­pens to me than my part­ner of 12 years. Their ‘next of kin’ sta­tus would be as­sumed, whereas my part­ner would have to prove hers. This wouldn’t be the case if we were mar­ried.

Fur­ther, should I die, again my mother and my sib­lings, as well as my chil­drens’ fa­ther, would have a greater say over my daugh­ter’s liv­ing ar­range­ments ( be­cause she is un­der 18) than my part­ner. Again, my part­ner would have to pro­vide ev­i­dence and put up a fight; an ar­gu­ment she would not have to en­ter into if we were mar­ried.

When it comes to su­per­an­nu­a­tion, ev­ery three years I have to com­plete a new ‘ bind­ing death nom­i­na­tion’, to en­sure that Fiona re­ceives her fair share of my su­per­an­nu­a­tion and life in­sur­ance in the event of my death. She has to do the same for me. If we were mar­ried, it would be as­sumed.

Vot­ing ‘ YES’ to mar­riage equal­ity is not a vote for po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, it won’t put us on a slip­pery slope to bes­tial­ity or polygamy, as many of the ‘No’ cam­paign­ers would have you be­lieve. You won’t be forced to marry us in your churches (in­deed, we wouldn’t want to any­way!) and you won’t have to change the def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage as it stands as a re­li­gious sacra­ment.

Vot­ing ‘ YES’ is not go­ing to change Your mar­riage, or Your

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