♥ A hot topic
The question of marriage equality has been a hot topic in recent times. This is mainly due to the legislation which came into being during John Howard’s term as Prime Minister of Australia.
In 2004, a series of words, known as The Monitum, was added to the Marriage Act 1961. These words must be said by all Commonwealth-registered celebrants (like me) and State and Territory officers (such as someone in a local Court House who is authorised to marry couples) in order for a marriage in Australia to be considered legal
The relevant wording from S46 is as follows:
(1) Subject to subsection (2), before a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, not being a minister of religion of a recognised denomination, the authorised celebrant shall say to the parties, in the presence of the witnesses, the words:
“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 a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”; or words to that effect.
♥ Is there room to move?
While there is some capacity to change certain words, the words cannot be diluted or substituted to mean something that alters the meaning of the words.
Reference to the possible changes can be seen by clicking on the following link and scrolling to pages 73 & 74: Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961.
♥ Option of additional wording
In addition, it is becoming popular for those who strongly disagree with the spirit of The Monitum to include a personal statement after The Monitum has been said. If you choose me as your celebrant and this is something you are interested in having me do, I have some options which I can email to you.
It should be noted that covering your ears, asking your family and friends to cover their ears, or turning off the microphone at this point in the ceremony is really not an option. My understanding is that these scenarios, depicted on social media, were more photo opportunities made after the ceremonies had concluded. Your two witnesses must be able to hear the ceremony. If called upon at a later date, they must be able to “testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed” (refer page 80 of the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 from the above link.)
♥ The alternative
Apart from including a personal statement after The Monitum has been said, if the subject of marriage equality is close to your heart, the other option is to not say anything at all. This is not to say that the feelings of those who oppose The Monitum are not justified; it is more that the friends of the couple are very supportive of their marriage and will be there on the day because of this. They may feel that having the couple make such a statement during their wedding ceremony is a response to a political situation which they do not require the couple to make on their big day.
Well worth considering, in these circumstances, is the inclusion of two pauses while the Monitum is said. As such, the Celebrant will say “Marriage … according to law in Australia … is the union etc.” The inclusion of these two pauses focuses on the fact that the law requires these words to be said, rather than the couple themselves.
The beauty of life is that we are all entitled to our own opinion. Yes, these may well change over time but, as free-thinking beings, we must follow our heart and always choose love!
The logo depicted and copyright for the logo remain the property of Judy Aulich and Charles Foley.
027 – 31/03/2016
Author’s note: Since the change to the Marriage Act on 9/12/2017, same-sex marriage is now legal in Australia.