On 7 December 2017, the Australian Parliament passed the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 to change the definition of marriage and provide for marriage equality in Australia.
The right to marry in Australia will no longer be determined by sex or gender.
Marriage equality will commence on 9 December 2017.
But what does that mean for you?
On 9 December 2017, amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 commence to provide for marriage equality. The vows and monitum will change to reflect the new definition of marriage as: ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.
As your celebrant, I am required to include a statement (the ‘monitum’) explaining the nature of the marriage relationship in all marriage ceremonies that I perform (section 46 of the Marriage Act).
From 9 December 2017, the monitum will change to reflect the new definition of marriage. This is so wonderful! Here is what I will say:
I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
Of course you can still say whatever vows you want to say, but there are a few words in there that you are legally required to say.
Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows that you have to say if I am your celebrant. From 9 December 2017, the vows will change to reflect the new definition of marriage – here is what you will say (don’t worry, I will guide you on the day):
I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse).
This change allows marrying couples to make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship. The term ‘husband’ can refer to a male marriage partner, and ‘wife’ to a female marriage partner, regardless of the sex or gender of the person saying the vows. The term ‘spouse’ can refer to a male, female, intersex, non-binary gender or transgender person.
This is so exciting!!