The NSW Government is seeking to introduce legislation to create a Relationships Register making it easier for committed unmarried couples to access legal entitlements and prove they are in committed or de facto relationships. Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said the NSW Register will be modelled on key aspects of registers already in place in the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania.
The Relationships Register Bill 2010, now before Parliament, aims to: (a) to provide for the legal recognition of relationships of couples, regardless of sex, by registration of the relationships, and (b) to recognise registered relationships, and interstate registered relationships, as de facto partnerships for the purposes of State legislation. According to the Attorney-General, the register will not provide for civil unions, but will reflect the serious commitment made by couples who choose to register their relationship. “Couples will need to be able to prove they are eligible to be included on the Register and can have the registration terminated if the relationship dissolves”, he said.
To be able to register a relationship on the relationship on the Relationships Register:
- Couples must be in a committed, exclusive relationship;
- Couples must not be married or in another relationship that is registered or registrable;
- Couples must be 18 years of age or older; and
- One person must be a resident of NSW”
According to Dr Gordon Moyes, Parliamentary Leader of Family First NSW, the establishment of a relationships register will further undermine the institution of marriage. Although supporting the removal of barriers faced by unmarried and same sex couples, Dr Gordon Moyes said, “Our primary concern is for the welfare of the family. Children have a right to be raised by a mother and father not just two people of the same sex.
“The Government is sugar-coating this move by saying it will remove discrimination and injustice for same-sex couples. But there is already adequate protection for their rights under all the laws protecting de-facto relationship whether same-sex or different partnerships. Having the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages administer the relationship register is just an attempt to have a back door marriage.”
Chris Meney, Director of the Life, Marriage and Family Centre for the Sydney Catholic Archdiocese, said “Such legislation reflects a poor understanding of why marriage is vital for the flourishing for any society. We know that marriage promotes increasing levels of well-being for couples and for their children….Given the studies showing that children from married intact families do better we should be doing all we can to support and encourage marriage.”
According to Mr. Meney, there appears to be a “deliberate reluctance” by some of our senior parliamentary representatives to incorporate provisions for ‘caring’ relationships as recommended by the NSW Law Reform Commission, and as reflected in legislation in Tasmania and Victoria.
He commented, “This would seem to suggest that this Bill is not really about enabling persons who have shared mutual interests to have their relationships acknowledged. There appears to be a much more deliberate focus on striving to provide for momentum for the progression of a “same sex” agenda.
Dr Moyes added, “The marriage of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, is much more than a private emotional relationship – it is also a social good. While not all marriages thrive, research confirms that married people live longer and are healthier, wealthier and more satisfied with their lives than their cohabiting or single peers. Their children also have better health, they do better at school and are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. At Family First we are committed to promoting and preserving marriage as the essential foundation of strong marriages and communities.”
When the legislation is introduced in the NSW Legislative Council next week, Dr Gordon Moyes will strongly oppose the Relationships Register Bill 2010.
Reference: Government bill will further undermine marriage, The Catholic Weekly, 9 May 2010.
REV THE HON DR GORDON MOYES AC MLC