Sydney gay couples can have free weddings if same-sex marriage is passed

By @chelean on
Gay rights activists hold a rainbow flag during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central Sydney.
Gay rights activists hold a rainbow flag during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central Sydney August 11, 2012. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

If same-sex marriage is passed, gay couples can wed for free in Sydney. A motion that was passed on Monday will allow same-sex couples to hire some services and venues for free for 100 days.

The offer would be valid if marriage equality is passed in the parliament. It is only available for same-sex weddings for 100 days following legalisation. However, they won’t take precedence over straight couples’, which meant that previous bookings for straight marriages will not be cancelled or moved to accommodate gay weddings during the 100-day free period. The motion, which was moved by Councillor Linda Scott, only includes venues, such as the halls and facilities of Sydney, but excludes other services like food catering.

While it appears a good gesture from the city, which launched a “yes” campaign in September, it also garnered criticisms even from SSM advocates. Councillor Christine Forster called the decision to provide facilities for gay weddings as “reckless.”

“This has been a fight about equality for all Australians before the law,” Forster, who voted against the motion, told “It’s not about giving special rights to one section of the community … that is the core principal of the equality campaign; it is the core value of the equality campaign.”

The Liberal councillor, who is pro-marriage equality, said she tried to include straight couples in the free 100 days offer. However, she had been voted down.

Scott, however, said it was not meant to discriminate heterosexual marriages. She told Fairfax Media that the offer is limited to gay marriages because the LGBT community has already suffered inequality. “This is a practical way for the council to combat discrimination.”

According to an analysis, the legalisation of same-sex marriage will add more than $650 million to the Australian economy. The figure was based on the 2016 census, assuming that half of the nearly 47,000 same-sex couples in Australia will get married.

Australians who have already voted in the postal survey is fast approaching 12 million, or 74.5 percent of voters. Should the “yes” vote win in the survey, which will conclude on Nov. 7 and announced on Nov. 15, the Turnbull government will present it to the parliament for voting on Dec. 7.