Australian perspectives on gay marriage

Posted on December 6, 2011

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Four La Trobe University academics have contributed to a new book— Speak now: Australian perspectives on same-sex marriage—sharing personal stories, reflections and essays.

More than thirty writers explored the legacy of the 2004 changes to the Australian Marriage act in the book which included a foreword by former High Court Justice Michael Kirby, who received an honorary doctorate from La Trobe this year.

Professor Dennis Altman, Director of the University’s Institute for Human Security, delved into the politics surrounding the issue in his chapter ‘Why gay marriage?’.

‘Indeed the strongest argument is one I have rarely heard, namely that as marriage, as distinct from civil unions, is essentially based on religious beliefs it is discriminatory for a secular society to restrict marriage between two adults of the same sex. That is an argument that should appeal to an atheist, unmarried Prime Minister,’ wrote Professor Altman.

From founding Australia’s first marriage equality lobby to becoming—at age 24—the youngest Australian in a same-sex relationship to legally marry, Luke Gahan from La Trobe’s Bouverie Centre explores divorce in same-sex marriage.

‘Too often the same-sex marriage movement avoids the topic and the sad realities of a legal same-sex divorce.’

‘In my chapter, “The ins and outs of marriage (and divorce)”, I am looking at the experience of love, marriage and divorce in same-sex couples while giving a personal account of my experience,’ he says.

Tying the K(NOT)!

Associate Professor Lynne Hillier, from La Trobe’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), and PhD Candidate Tiffany Jones co-wrote ‘On my 50 year anniversary I want a letter from the queen’, recounting data from an online survey of over 3,000 same sex attracted and gender questioning young Australians.

‘The chapter details young people who are same sex attracted who dream and hope about families and marriage,’ says Dr Hillier.

‘It is clear that young people unlike many of their older peers want the whole traditional thing, bended knees, total devotion and diamond rings.’

Ms Jones, who has written for diverse media including LOTL magazine, Sextures and The American Journal of Sexuality Education also contributed a personal story, ‘Tying the K(NOT)!’, which recalls painful and humorous memories of a high school crush that led to unexpected but welcome outcomes.

‘It is a comedy and incisive account of the treatment of lesbian couples in Australia from school to wedding day. I speak about going from loserville to love, and the reactions of my relationships—both real and rumoured—from the perspectives of friends, families, strangers and Australian law,’ Ms Jones says.

The book was published by Clouds of Magellan Publishing and edited by Victor Marsh, a research advisor at the University of Queensland, who also teaches writing and cultural studies at Southern Cross University. (ML)