Amongst the barage of emails and press releases I’ve been receiving re the same-sex civil union business, covered by the RiotACT here and here, was this one from Good Process suggesting we thank the Comrade for his ‘strong stance’ in the face of the evil that is Howard and crew.
[ED — a section from the Crikey newsletter with a different take on the whole affair is included below also.]
The Good Process letter:
(and/or a version to the Canberra Times would be excellent too!)
A sample of what Good Process sent to his media advisers is below for you to copy or adapt.
Dear Chief Minister
I am writing to express my thanks to you for your strong stance in the face of the Federal Government’s attack on the Civil Union Bill.
By claiming that the Civil Union Bill is ‘marriage by another name’ the Federal Government is conveniently glossing over the discrimination that couples undertaking a civil union in the ACT would still suffer under federal law.
As you are aware, as long as the Federal Government refuses to recognise same-sex relationships in areas like Taxation, Superannuation and Social Security, a State or Territory-based Civil Union WILL NEVER be ‘marriage by another name’ because a couple who undertakes a Civil Union will not be entitled to the rights enjoyed by married couples under federal law.
Such discrimination will remain regardless of whether or not the Civil Union ceremony is performed by a Commonwealth Marriage Celebrant.
I applaud you for your courage and thank you on behalf of my friends and family, for defending the Civil Union Bill.
We look forward with hope to the first Australian Civil Unions being undertaken in mid-2006!
And from Crikey:
10. Canberra: our own little Las Vegas
Crikey reporter Jane Nethercote writes:
They’ve tried p*rn. They’ve tried fireworks. Now they’re trying the pink dollar.
OK, so the ACT’s civil union bill has more noble aims than simply luring same-sex couples to spend money in Canberra. But with the Territory preparing to become the first place in Australia for same-sex couples to get married â€“ or at least civil unionised â€“ Canberra could stake its claim as the Las Vegas of the southern hemisphere. After all, it’s only three hours’ car ride away from the same-sex capital of Australia (and a little further from Australia’s real gay and lesbian capital).
“I am one of many non-ACT residents who have been watching the civil union developments in the ACT with some excitement, as this means that my partner and I may not have to travel overseas to solemnise our union,” subscriber Hannah Robert tells Crikey. For now, same sex couples continue to spend their dollars overseas in New Zealand, Canada and Spain.
Interestingly, she says, despite the federal government’s objections, “the helpful staff in the ACT Tourism office, and at various wedding venues and hotels who I have spoken with certainly see no sense in discriminating against us”.
Of course, it’s difficult to tell just how much â€“ or how little â€“ money the civil union would bring to the ACT. But a rough estimate can be formulated. According to a reading of the 2001 Census by Monash University’s Bob Birrell and Virginia Rapson, 0.25% of people in Australia were living in same-sex de facto relationships. With a population of 19.6 million people at the time, that represents 49,000 people. Not a large number, although Shaun Wilson, lecturer in sociology at Macquarie University, believes that the number is significantly higher.
If we were to assume that even 5% of these people would make the move from de facto to spouse in the ACT, spending $4,000 per couple (a very sedate figure considering that the average cost of a wedding in Australia is around $28,000 and that doesn’t account for guests’ accommodation and flight costs) that would bring in $4,900,000.
And it’s foreseeable that overseas tourists would also make a point of stopping off in the ACT to get hitched.
Like the moment when Dorothy lands in Oz, it could even bring colour to Canberra.