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Submission on civil unions

November 14, 2011

The Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser has recently introduced a private members bill on civil unions for same-sex couples. The debate is ongoing, but submissions to the relevant committee considering the bill closed today. Below is my submission, on behalf of the Australian Libertarian Society.

Submission to the Legal Affairs, Police, Corrective Services and Emergency Services Committee


On behalf of the Australian Libertarian Society (ALS), I would like to suggest that the government does not belong in marriage at all. The debate about how the government should regulate our love lives and our personal relationships rests on the idea that the government should be involved in the first place. That starting assumption is flawed. Love and relationships do not become better or worse because you inform a politician. Few married people conclude that their love is real only because it has been approved by Anna Bligh or Julia Gillard.

A marriage or civil union is an agreement between two people, and the only people who should be able to make that decision are the people involved. So long as the people involved are consenting adults, there is no reason for the government to restrict their right to form a contract with each other. The idea that the government should restrict the basic economic freedom to contract, on the basis that the parties to the contract are the same sex, is a perplexing attack on liberalism and the rule of law.

Ideally, the government should fully deregulate “marriage”. But if the government insists on continuing its weird fixation with documenting our love lives, then at the very least they should conduct their kinky hobby without discrimination. Personal discrimination is necessary and normal in everyday life, but government discrimination should never be tolerated because the government has the privileged position of being able to impose their views on others through force, and without direct consent.

In case this isn’t clear, let me state it simply — marriage should be fully deregulated, but if that is considered “too radical” then the government should at least allow for same-sex civil unions.

Defenders of marriage will rightly say that marriage is traditionally a religious concept. If only it had stayed that way. I suggest that religious groups should be free to discriminate according to their beliefs, just as we all discriminate every day regarding who we date, meet, support, visit, like, etc. However, that discrimination must not be done with the backing of government. Churches should always be free to *not* conduct a same-sex marriage or a same-sex union, but that decision should be left to each church, and not imposed by the government.

Freedom is now considered a quaint concept in most of the western world, including Australia. While political talking heads will argue passionately about how the government should run our lives, most people are genuinely perplexed when they hear the idea that perhaps the government should not run our lives at all. Many people now feel comfortable in their gilded cage, debating about the rules that our “leaders” should impose on us. This letter is in support of civil unions, and to let you know that some of us still believe in human self-ownership and reject the idea of government control of our lives.

You may set restrictive laws if you like. I will consider obeying them. Who is Ron Paul?

Kind Regards,

John Humphreys
Australian Libertarian Society

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