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Australia judge rules ban on same-sex marriage is not gender discrimination

Friday, February 22, 2013
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SYDNEY, Australia — A federal court judge in Australia has ruled that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage is not gender discrimination since neither gay men nor lesbians are allowed to marry under the legislation, and thus both sexes are treated equally.

In her ruling Wednesday, Justice Jayne Jagot wrote, “A man cannot enter into the state of marriage as defined with another man just as a woman cannot enter into the state of marriage with another woman. “The redress for these circumstances lies in the political and not the legal arena.”

In her decision, Jagot noted that sex discrimination depends on a comparison between the treatment of the person of one sex with the treatment of the opposite sex.

“There cannot be discrimination by reason of the sex of a person because in all cases the treatment of the person of the opposite sex is the same,” she wrote.

Under the current law known as the Marriage Act, marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

“By statutory definition, persons of the opposite sex may marry and persons of the same sex may not,” she said.

Same-sex marriage has been a fiercely debated issue in the nation.

During the last session of Parliament last fall, a bill that would have amended the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry was defeated in a 98-42 vote, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard among the governing Labor party members who joined the opposition coalition in voting against the law’s passage.

Gillard, who is not married but lives with her opposite sex partner, defended her opposition to same sex marriage: “I think you can have a relationship of love and commitment and trust and understanding that doesn’t need a marriage certificate associated with it.”

In September, 2012, a same-sex marriage equality bill that had passed the lower house of the Tasmanian State Parliament was voted down by the upper house after legal experts, particularly a former state chief justice, called into question the federal constitutional legality of the legislation.

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