Marriage is more than just a legal process – it’s a complex cultural ritual, celebration and economic transaction between the couple, their families, their community and in some cases, their deity(ies). In theory, given that we live in such a multi-cultural society, the simplest part of marriage should be that involving the government.
Put simply, government should butt out and stay out.
Its role should be to register the married parties, ensure that they are of legal age and all parties consent to the marriage. The marriage registry office is simply that: where you register after the fact of what you and your community have already recognised. A simple lodging of a signed contract(s) with the required witnesses should be enough.
The farce that is Australia’s position on same-sex marriage and the intrusion of the legally required words to be spoken by the registrar (strangely and idiotically called the celebrant – a mini-industry of over-certification in itself) were the main sticking points for me in the entire process.
Fortunately, we split up the real portion of the wedding (the complex portion of it) from the legal part. Our wedding took place over 5 days and nights at Confest amongst our community. We exchanged our vows without an intermediary. It was everything we hoped for and more. The Saturday after, we told the government that we’d got married, they dutifully recorded it and gave us a receipt of the registration.
One day soon hopefully, the Australian government will accept the registrations of same-sex and further along the track, polygamous marriages.