Two very different but significant decisions were made in Australia last week, which have a bearing on the nature of marriage. Firstly on 30 November the High Court overturned ‘spousal privilege’, the common law right of a spouse (in this and virtually every case, the wife) to refuse to give evidence against her husband. Secondly the Australian Labor Party voted on 3 December to include same sex marriage in its federal platform (while reserving a conscience vote that will ensure nothing actually changes). Throw in a third – Andrew Fraser’s private member’s bill to legalise civil unions for same sex couples in Queensland on 1 December – and something interesting seems to be going on.
Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but so far I haven’t seen any analysis that links the High Court decision to the issue of same sex marriage, and changing attitudes towards single sex unions in the general community, but taken together they seem to say something about the practice of marriage itself. Continue reading