Australian Recognition of Foreign Marriages Bill: Testimony

August 2014

In May 2014, the Recognition of Foreign Marriages bill was introduced in the Australian Parliament. The passage of the bill would mean that same-sex couples legally married in another country would have their marriage recognized in Australia.

The Marriage Act of 1961 provides that only marriages between a man and a woman are legally recognized in Australia, barring same-sex couples in the country from marrying. The Recognition of Foreign Marriages bill would amend that law to require Australia to recognize marriages of same-sex couples that were legally performed in other countries.

The bill, if passed, would ensure that the benefits of marriage are available to Australian same-sex couples and their families if they formalize their relationship elsewhere. Passage of the bill would likely lead to an increase in the number of married same-sex couples residing in Australia, as married Australian same-sex couples return home and as married non-Australian same-sex couples migrate to Australia.

The testimony describes the main impacts of the bill on Australian society. First, there would be positive effects on same-sex couples and their families, including greater relationship satisfaction and improvements in mental and physical health. Additionally, marriage is particularly valuable to same-sex couples and preferred over other legal statuses, such as civil unions, conferring an even greater benefit to couples and their families. Finally, the Australian government may benefit as research from other countries has shown that the net effect of the rights, benefits, and obligations of marriage is to save governments money.

Download the testimony

Australian Recognition of Foreign Marriages Bill: Testimony