The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gives rights and responsibilities that are equal to that of marriage. Property rights, exemption on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits are all equal. Parental rights, tenancy rights, and next-of-kin rights are also equal.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows transsexuals to change their legal gender. To do so they must end any existing marriage, although under special provisions of the Civil Partnership Act, such couples are able to dissolve their marriage and enter into a civil partnership the same day.
Currently, same-sex marriages are not recognised under Australian federal law. In 2004, the Marriage Act of 1961 was redefined to recognise marriage as “the union of a man and a woman”.
Cohabitating same-sex couples are recognised as de facto couples in all states and territories. Same-sex couples have access to domestic partnership registries in Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.
Laws that recognised same-sex couples and gave them rights equal to that of unmarried opposite-sex couples in areas such as taxation, social security and health care were passed in November 2008.
Canada legalized same-sex marriage in July 2005 under nationwide the Civil Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is the defining law on this subject in the US.
It affirms that marriage means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. It reaffirms the principle of statesâ€™ rights by stating that no state need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if it is defined as so in another state. A legal union in Connecticut or Massachusetts only remains so in the state. The Federal Government does not recognise it under the terms of DOMA.
Once again the so-called ‘land of the free’ demonstrates that its rhetoric and its actions are in perpetual opposition.
Click here to read more about the impact of DOMA.