The solution from those who want to give equality to same-sex couples without engaging the political, religious and just plain prejudiced objections to same-sex marriage is to instead focus on equality between same-sex and de facto heterosexual relationships. This is one of the problems with that approach:
Professor Patrick Parkinson says many people, especially young couples, might not agree to the division of future superannuation and maintenance.
“Many people don’t want that, particularly young people, particularly Generation Y,” he said.
“They are trying relationships out, they’re seeing if it’ll work … they don’t want the life-long commitment of a marriage when they simply move in,” he said.
Family law needs to be subtle enough to distinguish between relationships where the partners intend to share their lives, including their financial interests, and relationships where the partners may live together but without intermingling all aspects of their lives. It seems to me that, wherever possible, the people involved should be able to signify when they are entering into the former type of partnership. Marriage provides one avenue to do this; relationship registration (as in Tasmania) provides another.
But the reluctance to introduce any policy that would involve formal recognition of same-sex relationships means that the conceptualisation of de facto relationships is being shaped to placate the calls for same-sex marriage. The solution can then end up being inadequate for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.