Here at Put A Ring On It we are big time supporters of marriage equality. But living in Australia, of course, same-sex marriage is not legal and there is potentially a long way to go until it is, unlike other parts of the world.
According to a 2014 poll, 72% of Australians are supporters of marriage equality. Many of us have friends and family members who are part of the LGBTIQ community.
When heterosexual couples are married, often in the presence of said friends and family members who may not be heterosexual, there are two paragraphs that must be read out, by law, by the officiant that can be quite upsetting.
They can be quite shocking when you hear them at first (or even after fifty times, because they are essentially quite discriminatory).
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.
These words, known as ““The Monitum” must be spoken to make your marriage legally binding. The legal requirement for these words to be included in all wedding ceremonies was the result of Howard Government changes to the Marriage Act in 2004 to specifically exclude same-sex marriage. There’s absolutely no mistaking what these words symbolise.
And if you don’t like it? Bad news. You are not allowed to change the wording in any way. And if you think that you can just get your celebrant not to say them, think again. If someone reports your celebrant the marriage can be declared invalid and the celebrant could risk de-registration.
So the only way to avoid having those words spoken at your wedding ceremony, for now, is to not get married.
Many couples have found ways to minimise the monitum or to object to it in their ceremonies.
Image: Thomas Stewart
This can include:
- The celebrant either reading the monitum quietly or turning the sound down on the PA system.
- Having guests cover their ears at the critical moment.
- Having the celebrant add some words before or after the monitum is read that reflects the couples’ views on marriage equality. There’s a number of good examples available from Australian Marriage Equality.
- Having guests wear ribbons in solidarity.
- Holding a commitment ceremony instead of a wedding.
- Have two wedding ceremonies: a private one with the monitum and a separate public ceremony without the monitum.
- Make your views on marriage equality known through chalkboard signs or posters at your venue.
It’s important to keep in mind that not every civil celebrant is going to be down with marriage equality, so if it is something that is important to you, you should sound this out before you hire your celebrant.
And hopefully some time in the not too distant future, the monitum will cease to be a problem because marriage equality will be a reality.