SAME-sex couples can now legally ‘marry’ in Australia and receive the same rights as a traditional husband and wife following the introduction of a new marriage-style contract.
Gold Coast marriage celebrant Michelle Anderson is the mastermind behind what is formally known as the ‘M2.1 Independent Legal Evermore Pledge‘ – a legally binding contract specifically tailored for same-sex couples.
The contract addresses the extensive list of legal and financial particulars that apply to the Australian Marriage Act 1961, such as wills, beneficiaries, power of attorney, next of kin, superannuation, finances and estate planning.
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As a result of the Howard Government’s amendment to the Marriage Act in 2004, same-sex marriage remains banned under federal law in Australia where marriage is defined as the union of a man and woman.
Same-sex relationships are recognised as de facto unions. Multiple attempts to legalise same-sex marriage in federal parliament have been rejected, despite recent polls indicating most Australians support it.
The current Turnbull Government put legislation to parliament establising a plebiscite on the issue which would have been held in February this year, though this too was rejected, blocked by the Senate.
Ms Anderson, Director of the Gold Coast-based Australian Marriage Service launched in 2017, says the Evermore Pledge is the closest same-sex couples will get to marriage until the Government embraced marriage equality.
The Pledge is paired with personally written vows and celebrated at a ‘wedding-style’ celebration.
“When we put these fundamental ingredients together, we are left with a legal replica of ‘marriage’,” Ms Anderson said.
“It’s by no means the answer. But for now, it is the closest we can get and an interim solution for those who are no longer prepared to wait for our government to catch up with the rest of the English-speaking world.”
Ms Anderson teamed up with Melbourne-based law firm Nevile and Co. to create the contract as an interim solution for LGBTIQ couples that wish to marry by giving them a legal, educated and ethical alternative.
Australian Marriage Service Business Development Manager Greg Pope said the Pledge could be the next phase in the evolution of ‘marriage’.
“Some may call it a Band-Aid solution, but given that same-sex marriage may be granted somewhere from one to five years away, this concept, by others, is regarded as a superior model altogether,” Greg said.
Popular blogger Carly Naughton said the Evermore Pledge would give her and her same-sex partner Alee Fogarty the power to make decisions which currently they legally can not.
“This actually sounds like something we would rather do than marriage,” Carly said. “What we really want is for our family to be protected from a legal point of view.
“If I were sick in hospital and decisions had to be made, my female partner would not currently have the ability to do so. This kind of agreement legally recognises her (Alee) as someone with the authority to act on my behalf.”
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The proud Evermore Pledge embassadors are no strangers to innovation for the same-sex community.
The birth of their IVF son Oak was featured on Channel 7’s ‘Gold Coast Medical’ and Alee was the first woman to be added to a birth certificate without the other mother’s consent.
More than 5200 people have subscribed to Carly’s Facebook page where she addresses topics such as IVF, lesbian relationships and multicultural families.
“Marriage is essentially a legal contract between two people, with ties to religion and/or the government,” Carly said.
“Take those out and you are left with what members of the LGBTQIA community want, to be able to commit to one another and ensure that their future is solidified legally in case of death or illness.
“While this does not grant us equality, it is a step in the right direction and also allows us to have the legal security in regards to property, children, possessions, superannuation, power of attorney and a whole range of other things that marriage would naturally grant.”
The Gold Coast-based Australian Marriage Service expects to hold it’s first Evermore Pledge ‘wedding’ within the next two months.
The Pledge will become available Australia wide as celebrants from around the country become familiar with the concept and incorporate it into their existing commitment ceremonies.
Profits generated by the Pledge will be donated to associated charities and organisations with aligned goals.
For more information on the Evermore Pledge, click here.