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The Age – "Family Court should rule on gay disputes: Kirby" by Fergus Shiel

October 28, 2002 Leave a comment

High Court judge Michael Kirby has declared his support for the Family Court to deal with property disputes between gay couples.

He told an international family law conference in Melbourne yesterday that, in the unlikely event that he were to break up with his male partner of 33 years, he would hope to be treated equally before the law.

“But if it were to happen, it would seem more seemly to me, it would seem more equal to other citizens, that it should be dealt with in a Family Court with other people whose relationships have broken down rather than in an equity court,” he said.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court, Alastair Nicholson, later said it would be “a very sensible idea” for the Family Court to have jurisdiction over both gay and heterosexual couples.

Federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams has clashed with his Victorian counterpart, Rob Hulls, because the Commonwealth wants to extend family court powers over property settlements from married couples to separating de factos. But the extension would exclude gay couples.

Justice Kirby said it was time we all faced up to the reality that there were many sexual minorities demanding equality under family law.

At present, separating married couples have custody and property issues determined in the Family Court.

But when de facto couples separate, the Family Court deals with custody matters and property settlements are decided in state Supreme Courts, with the exception of Western Australia, which has its own Family Court that deals with same sex breakdowns.

The Federal Government wants to take over state and territory powers for property settlements for heterosexual de facto couples in order to save themtime and legal expense.

Mr Hulls says Victoria is willing to transfer powers to the Commonwealth but the move should cover all de facto couples, regardless of sexuality, otherwise it would be homophobic.

In his address yesterday to the 16th World Congress of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates, Justice Kirby said the community needed to consider questions of sexuality before the law.

“It is important, I think, that people like me should tell people like you these things so that you realise that the issue of sexuality is not something odd and peculiar of tiny minorities,” he said.

“It is something that reaches in the highest constitutional offices of countries. It always has, but in the past it has been subject to the pressure ‘Don’t ask. Don’t tell.’

“Thanks in part to genetic information . . . and in part to the work of Alfred Kinsey and others like him, that edict is in its last days – at least in Western countries – and it is important that all of us should face up to these scientific realities.”

Mr Williams responded: “The government believes that regulating the property settlements of same sex couples is properly the province of the state and territories.”

[Link: Original Article

Categories: gay, Lesbian

A Community Law Reform Document – "And then… the brides changed nappies" by Jenni Millbank

October 1, 2002 Leave a comment

Lesbian mothers, gay fathers and the legal recognition of our relationships with the children we raise

A Community Law Reform Document – 1st edition
Nappies is for consultation

In 1993 the GLRL developed relationship recognition options in The Bride Wore Pink. After a process of community consultation, a second edition of the Bride was developed in 1994. Bride became the basis for lobbying for law reform over 5 years until laws recognising gay and lesbian relationships were passed in NSW in 1999. This second stage, Nappies is to take the law reform process further, from partnerships to parenting.

This discussion paper outlines some of the issues in the laws that regulate and (mostly do not) recognise our families. We suggest a series of possibilities for change and recommend those we think are the best.

We are informed in this paper by existing social science research on gay and lesbian family forms as well as by the GLRL 2001 consultation on parenting issues. Our starting point is that parenting issues are more of an issue generally for women than men, as lesbians are more likely to be parents than gay men are, and more likely to be the full time caregivers to children when they are parents. Acknowledging women’s primacy in parenting issues does not mean we devalue men’s parenting relationships.

Our purpose is to find models that assist all our families as they exist now, it is not to express any preference for one kind of family – one parent or two, gay dads involved or not involved – over any other.

We expect that our suggestions will generate a range of views. This document is only a draft, it is not final. We need to hear from you about whether you think what we propose is helpful. You can respond in writing, by email, or at one of the community consultations through 2002/3 – see the details for submissions and consultations at the end of this paper.

We hope to develop a broad consensus from listening to lesbian and gay families about what law reform is needed. If there is a consensus we will write a final report and use it as a base for our future lobbying efforts, as we did with Bride. If there is no real agreement within our communities, we will issue a final report acknowledging where those divisions lie.

[Link: Full Report]

Categories: gay, Jenni Millbank, Lesbian