Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Report [ 2007 ]
The Inquiry collected a large number of
stories outlining the personal experiences of discrimination faced by same-sex
couples and their children.
The following is a
selection of extracts from these
stories. The stories demonstrate
the compound effect of discrimination against same-sex families in the area of
financial and work-related entitlements.
more personal stories can also be found on the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission’s website:
Pannuzzo and Daniel Milano:
discrimination in visas, Medicare, tax, social
security and family
In the year 2000 I was ready to settle down. As they
say ‘get married, buy a house and have some kids’. I was a 26 year
old Australian travelling the world who had met his American partner in New York
My American partner in all pretences is
my husband and my wife. He has been my domestic partner in New York City, my de
facto partner in Victoria, my interdependent relationship under Australian
immigration law, my husband under Canadian law, and finally not recognised under
Australian [f]ederal [l]aw.
We knew from the
beginning that we would have to jump many legal hurdles just to stay together.
Neither of our countries recognises our relationship to the extent of our
heterosexual unmarried citizens.
interdependency path [to obtaining a visa] would take at least a year before we
could even consider it. Recognition was only an option after a whole year of, in
effect, living together and sharing a life, even though neither of our countries
offered such a visa. We had made the decision to be together forever but did not
have the option of a fiancés visa like ... heterosexual [couples].
We started collecting information from the
beginning, information that would prove our interdependency. We collected
letters and cards addressed to us both (including envelopes as the [I]mmigration
[D]epartment loves to see post marks – legal proof), we collected legal
documents, bank statements, leases, wills drawn up in each others names. What we
would have given for a marriage licence. Or any form of federally recognised
paperwork stating we were a couple who shared each other’s
I cried tears of joy [when] the
Victoria State Government ... passed legislation recognising same sex
relationships to the level of de facto... This gave me hope; the Victorian
government had made wonderful progress. My home country was making
So after a year of living together in
New York City we posted our 9lbs or 4.5kgs of paperwork to the immigration
officer in Washington DC. Within 2 months, a near record, Daniel had received
his Australian temporary residency status. We had to tick the box of
interdependency. All the paperwork was the same as for the de facto couples but
we had a different box to tick...
discrimination we faced was being left out of the changes to the [F]amily [L]aw
[A]ct, such that unmarried heterosexual couples were now able to use the family
court to settle disputes. As a homosexual couple we can not access the [F]amily
[C]ourt if we break up but instead have to use the civil courts.
The federal government next passed some laws
allowing families to access the Medicare safety net for medical bills, [and]
pharmaceutical benefits. We are not a family under this legislation, and have to
spend twice as much as a heterosexual unmarried couple, to receive such a
benefit. I administer such benefits everyday as a pharmacist. Families listed on
a Medicare card or registered with Medicare are able to access these ... safety
nets. Homosexual families can not. My family can not.
Next came our visit to our accountant. When we
have to submit our tax forms or consider our superannuation options we have to
employ specialist accountants or legal professionals to get the right advice.
The advice that we got in this regard is that we just don’t have any
rights in either regard...
applied for AusStudy, he informed Centrelink of my income only to be told that
he would not be eligible for AusStudy as my earnings were too high. He then told
them I was a man, and they informed him that he was recognised as a single and
was entitled to AusStudy.
are never quite sure [which box to tick]. [O]ften legal advice is required or
you face breaking the law or being told you are not entitled to this or that,
only to be told something untrue or
Are we married or are we single?
[A]re we de facto or domestic partners? That depends on the level of government
we have to deal with.
Thankfully we are now
recognised by federal government legislation when it comes to terrorism and
superannuation (unless you have a federal fund).
Discrimination is an insidious thing. It eats
away at your determination. You can fight for it for only so long. A country
like Canada which gives us full marriage rights is one which is calling for
immigrants like us. Like us, gay and lesbian married couples, are recognised and
respected the same way everyone else is. Australia’s lack of law reform in
this area will see us consider our future in this country. We can only hope that
an [I]nquiry like this one will result in changes that make for an improvement
of recognition of our rights as citizens of this nation.
a parent’s perspective of the discrimination faced by his
daughter in family law, parental leave, Medicare, tax and social
I am here as a father of four. [My] eldest daughter
Sacha lives in Melbourne with her partner Anna and they [have] a daughter, Mabel
who is 11 months old.
I intend this submission
to be based on what ... I consider the differences between my daughter [Sacha]
and her sister Lauren, who also has a [male] partner and they have 2 children, a
son 4 and a daughter 19 months.
have a baby, my daughter [Sacha], the biological mother, after much research of
the options available, opted for Artificial Insemination. This procedure is not
available to gay couples or single women that are not in a committed
relationship in Victoria, unless they have a problem with fertility, so they had
to go interstate. This procedure is an expensive and mentally draining exercise.
Part of the procedure is to have counselling of at least 2 sessions to prove you
are ready and suitable to have children.
many parents male/female would even consider this as an option before starting a
family, and what would be their reaction to such a
Sacha was treated as a single
mother throughout the pregnancy, but was totally supported by Anna the entire
time. Many of the costs involved are not claimable, either due to the nature of
the procedure or threshold limits.
daughter [Lauren] and her partner have had their two children, the fact that he
is male [means] no explanations are required, therefore their relationship is
proof enough to satisfy the system. [Y]et Sacha has to constantly explain the
situation, which shouldn’t be an
After the birth of Mabel, Sacha and
Anna, to ensure the future welfare and care of their daughter, had papers drawn
up to cover a, b or c etc. [This] cost $1500.
Another major purpose of these papers is to
show Anna is just as much a parent as Sacha but that is still not acceptable to
the system. Adoption by Anna is not
While these papers go a long way
towards helping solve some of the problems that may or may not occur, if they
are put to the test, how credible are they? If separation occurs, my daughter
could be left totally supporting herself and Mabel, and if something happens to
Sacha where does that leave Anna as a parent, let alone financially. Ironically
even fathers who don’t pay maintenance are still recognised as
[O]ne of the plus sides of the
situation is that [Sacha] is entitled to all [social security] benefits as a
single mother, regardless of her living circumstances. [H]er partner could be a
millionaire but in the system this is not considered. I guess while this can be
seen as a plus, I know they would swap these benefits if it meant they were both
recognised and treated as parents with [the] same rights as male/female
Anna has supported their family
financially and was entitled to 2 days maternity leave and took annual leave
after the birth.
As far as Medicare is
concerned they are treated as a family for Sacha and Mabel, and a single for
Anna. [T]herefore the combination of costs if they reach the Medicare threshold
is not possible.
This also applies to tax
rebates; Anna is not entitled to claim either of them as dependants, unlike my
other daughter’s partner. If you choose to stay at home once your paid
maternity leave has run out, surely as [a] couple you should be entitled to
the same rebates.
Recently while visiting my
daughter, Anna came home form work in pain and distressed with a bad ear
infection. [B]efore departing to go to the emergency room, I couldn’t but
notice sadly that Sacha gathered together all papers that states their
relationship. [Y]et when we got there, that was one of the first questions
asked, their relationship status, to be able to tick the right category, to
which my daughter replied they are a couple and it was up to them to which
category they thought was applicable.
daughter only has to be there with her partner, no further questions are needed,
and the Medicare card says it all.
Due to their
relationship these papers are taken everywhere there is a remote possibility
they may be needed. [A]s we all know not all families totally support their gay
children, so couples need to be able to make decisions for each other if
required without fear of a legal or family ramification...
[A]s parents we want the best for our children
and admire them for their academic/career and personal triumphs in life and
don’t want to see them disadvantaged because of their
While Sacha and Anna do come across
sympathetic people in the system and with a strong network in the gay community,
this all certainly helps; this doesn’t compensate the injustices brought
about by the system.
As a parent and a
grandparent when talking to family, friends and colleagues about these things,
many of them are unaware ... but agree that the inconsistencies should be
righted and are pleased they don’t have to face the same
What a pity people don’t see
what my grandson [Lauren’s son] sees, while he may not be old enough to be
able to understand the whole situation, he just sees a cousin with two
Why should Mabel grow up with any less
right either legal or financial than her
Are we pushing the cause for equal
rights for all regardless of sexuality?
discrimination in parental leave, workplace agreements, social security
and the law more
My name is Eilis Hughes, and my partner Kristen and I
will celebrate three years together next
We’re now entering a new phase in
our lives and our relationship where we hope and expect to become parents within
the next year or so. That is one of my motivations for making a submission to
this Inquiry – I don’t want our baby to be born into an invisible
As ‘out’ as I may believe
myself to be, the truth is we all have to make decisions every day about coming
out in different circumstances. In the community the default assumption is
heterosexual, and we are always having to mak[e] decisions about whether to
correct that assumption and make ourselves more visible and expose ourselves to
The best example of this
happening in my life – and it’s not one lead by the federal
government – is our employment contract at my workplace. It gives us an
entitlement to ‘non-birth-parent leave’ as opposed to
‘paternity leave’. There is no unnecessary gender-specific language
like father, husband or wife in our contract. Of course, these entitlements are
important and we’re grateful for them. But even more important is the
tone or culture that they set for the workplace. It makes our family visible and
equal. This meant that I knew – before I even sat at my desk on my first
day – that it was [okay] to be open and proud about my family at work. I
put Kristen’s photo on my desk, and my boss smiled and asked ‘Is
that your family?’ I didn’t have to make that coming out
I was also grateful for the people
who came before me to negotiate that agreement. What happens when we have to
negotiate individual agreements? Do we feel confident and safe to negotiate
‘non-birth-parent leave’ and similar on our own? This should have
been protected in WorkChoices, rather than keeping the old-fashioned paternity
My workplace contrasts with
Kristen’s workplace earlier this year. She worked for a very small family
business where she was the only employee who wasn’t a member of the
strongly Christian family. The many pictures of Jesus smiling down at her from
the walls kept her silent about our family. She would never have asked for
carer’s leave to look after me if I was sick. She had no idea how she
would ever ask for non-birth-parent leave if and when the need should arise. And
there was no way she was going to put a photo of me on her desk and tell them I
was her family.
Society needs leadership to
Kristen has since left that job
to start her own business via the NEIS scheme, which involves applying for
Newstart from Centrelink. Factors affecting eligibility include whether she
lives with someone of the opposite sex. My ability (or inability) to support
Kristen financially is not recognised. Similarly, when I give birth to our child
I will be seen as a single parent and will be eligible for single parent
This is the aspect of this Inquiry
about which I had mixed feelings. I was worried about drawing attention to the
apparent advantage we can enjoy in these circumstances. I know that there are
people who don’t want to lose these benefits, and there are cynics amongst
us who think that this [I]nquiry might end up with Centrelink recognising our
relationships to reduce the welfare payments they need to make, but that other
areas of disadvantage won’t change as
But let me tell you, those small
Centrelink benefits are poor compensation for the disadvantages we face in
taxation, Medicare and other areas you’re investigating in this Inquiry.
We’d rather have equality.
Put simply, I
want the same rights and responsibilities as all of my straight friends –
to form a family and support it and nurture it. I want Kristen to feel as secure
in her parenting role as any other parent – without the uncertainty that
comes with not being on the birth certificate, not being able to be on the same
Medicare card, not being able to be seen as a family for tax purposes and so on.
And I want our child to be born into a visible family – where there are
categories for us on forms and our type of family is named in policies and the
general community follows that example and accepts our family alongside everyone
else’s and coming out becomes a moot point. And this needs to start with
some leadership by our federal government which says it believes in human rights
and equal opportunity.
Kim and Brian McKinlay:
discrimination in federal superannuation
We are old enough to remember when ... it was very
much more difficult for gay and lesbian people than it is today. We experience
little in the way of overt discrimination against us in our life together
– which, for us, makes superannuation a glaring
We are 60 and 58 years of age. We are
both members of the Australian Public Service and contributors to the Public
Sector Superannuation Scheme. We wish to provide security for each other.
However, we are unable to do this through superannuation death
We have been together for over eight
years. We are certain that we will be together ‘until death us do
part’ and we are planning accordingly. We hold all our debts and assets in
common – house, mortgage, car, bank accounts, furniture, insurance, etc.
We are the principal beneficiaries of each other’s wills. Superannuation
is the only asset of importance that we cannot
Changes to Commonwealth legislation have
allowed members of same-sex couples contributing to some schemes to nominate
their partners to receive superannuation death benefits. However, as this
Inquiry is very well aware, this does not apply to Australian Government
employees. We find this an extraordinary and hurtful discrimination by the
Australian Government against its own employees. Are we any less committed to
each other than members of a de facto opposite-sex couple or people
employed in the private sector? ...
Government’s policy is to encourage retirees to take pensions rather than
lump sums – if for no other reason than to reduce the call on Social
Security. But the present situation forces CSS and PSS members in permanent
same-sex relationships to do just the opposite – to take lump sums and
reinvest them. This doesn’t make much
This inconsistency between policy and
law creates a considerable problem for James and me. What is the best way for us
to ensure each other’s financial
At some stage the Government may permit
us to move to another scheme that pays benefits to same-sex couples. But the
financial cost of this to us could be
We could take our PSS benefits as
lump sums and reinvest them. But, again, the whole-of-life financial loss could
We could seek out
redundancies, cash-out our benefits and then return to
These options would be to [our] advantage
if we knew that one of us was to die young. But if, as we both confidently
expect, we are to have long lives, they would be financially disastrous.
Pensions would be preferable; if there was a reversionary death benefit,
which there is not. Should we be forced to make such choices, simply because we
are two people of the same sex?
But there are
even more uncertainties for us to worry
The 2003 legislation allows trustees to
pay reversionary benefits to members of same sex couples, but only at the
trustees’ discretion. Thus, even if James and I were able each to transfer
to a non-government scheme, it would by no means be certain that death benefits
would be payable. These arrangements for private funds are most unfair and
discriminatory - they allow (even require) trustees to make moral and other
assessments of the quality of
recognises de facto opposite-sex couples. It would be rudimentary to
legislate to recognise same-sex couples in exactly the same
The Government has long promised to
address anomalies in superannuation for same-sex couples but has singularly
failed to do so.
discrimination against children, workplace leave, Medicare, tax and child
My partner and I have been in a committed relationship
for 13 years. We have two children, Hannah aged 3, and Ava aged 1.
I wanted to make a submission to this Inquiry
to outline some of the areas of law that my family experience discrimination
because our same-sex partnership is not legally recognised. Specifically, I
wanted to focus my submission on discrimination that my children may experience.
Firstly, it is important to note that because
we each conceived one of our daughters, we are not considered the legal parents
of both our children. In Victoria we are not allowed to adopt our children to
remedy this fact. In order to minimise the discrimination that this causes we
have obtained court orders that give residency and contact responsibilities to
us as a couple and limits the donor’s responsibilities. Although this
remedy has been invaluable in dealing with the hospital system, childcare and
other service systems, it is inadequate because it does not and cannot make
Hannah my daughter nor Ava Marion’s daughter in law. Further, a
court order is only relevant while the girls are minors, once Hannah is 18 years
old she will have no legal relationship to me, nor Ava to Marion. Although our
daughters have the same father, they are not considered sisters by law and their
birth certificates do not recognise the existence of each
Workplace leave entitlements
When Ava was born, Marion was required to
use her holidays so that she could attend the birth and support me in the days
that followed. If Marion had been my husband, then she would have been able to
claim paternity leave.
Nine months after Hannah
was born I resigned from my work to care for her full time while Marion returned
to work. If we were in a heterosexual relationship I would have been entitled to
take unpaid parental leave up to her first birthday under my award. In my case
it was up to the discretion of my employer if they would allow unpaid leave.
Medicare and PBS
As the federal government does not
recognise our family, and considers each of us as single mothers, we are not
able to financially benefit fully from the Medicare Safety Net or the PBS. One
of us can register with both dependent children and the other must be considered
as an individual. This means that the individual cannot contribute to the family
reaching the safety net threshold, and [has] to spend considerably more money
before they are able to benefit from the two schemes.
Childcare is another area where our family
is not recognised. Both of our children attend childcare three days a week,
however, we are treated by the childcare centre as two families. This is because
the federal government does not recognise our family structure. This means that,
because Marion is working full time, we receive almost no government assistance
for Hannah’s child care. As I work 3 days a week we receive about 78%
benefit. I don’t know if this results in our being better or worse off
financially than if we were considered in the same way as a heterosexual couple.
In any case we experience, yet again, a lack of recognition of our family
structure that has resulted in confusion at the childcare centre and a reminder
of our legal non recognition.
Because we are treated as singles, we also
experience financial disadvantage in the tax system. [W]e are not able to claim
each other as a dependent spouse. This was particularly relevant while each of
us took a year off to have our children and was fully supported by our partner.
During this time, our partner was not able to claim us as dependent.
In dealing with government agencies and
service providers we have to explain our family structure and try to work out
what the best arrangement would be for our family. At times we have received
incorrect or conflicting advice because some government officers are not clear
about the level of recognition in this area. This is a constant stress other
families don’t even have to consider. Indeed when heterosexual friends and
work colleagues are told about these problems they are shocked that
discrimination continues to affect our relationship and our children.
general discrimination in the law and aged
At the outset I’d like to say that quite
frankly, it confounds me that we need to be going through this process in
Australia, in 2006. We live in an essentially tolerant and inclusive society, so
you’ve got to wonder why people like my partner Andreas and me are still
waiting for equality...
members of our society. We’re both employed, so we contribute to society
with our taxes, and with our work we contribute to the organisations that employ
us. We serve the community in other ways as
We’ve been together now for
nineteen years, so like every couple we’ve had the opportunity to share
some incredibly joyful times, and to support each other through painful ones. We
fully intend to spend the rest of our lives together, and our commitment to each
other is deep, genuine and ongoing.
our straight friends we contribute to the life of our society, our families and
each other. Just like our straight friends, our relationship, and our expressing
it by living together, is utterly lawful.
in spite of this we face arbitrary discrimination in a number of areas, almost
all of them because our Federal Government refuses to recognise our
It’s not like the
government gives us a choice in these matters. We can’t opt out of the
Medicare Levy or superannuation. Given the compulsion in the tax, Medicare and
superannuation systems, it’s reasonable to expect that having contributed
at the same rate as everyone else, we’ll get the same benefits – but
we don’t. Very simply we believe that forcing us to contribute to a system
which discriminates against us is just plain
Just one more example from the aged care
system that to us, underscores the meanness in this discrimination: where a
member of an opposite-sex couple is incapacitated and requires nursing home
care, the means test for an accommodation bond excludes the family home.
However, if one member of a same-sex couple requires residential nursing care,
then that person’s share of the family home is treated as an asset. What
this means for us is that if either of us were ever incapacitated, we would face
the possibility of being forced to sell our home out from under the other
Fortunately, it looks like there will be
plenty of time to fix this problem before it affects us, if ever. But of course
it’s happening to other couples
Andreas and I strongly believe that by
retaining the inequalities, and refusing to recognise same-sex relationships,
our Federal Government maintains an environment in which hate and homophobia can
thrive. It validates the views of the very few in our society who would attack
us because of our sexuality. The government treats gays and lesbians
differently, they say, so why shouldn’t
A great power to end the discrimination
and neutralise the homophobes resides with our Federal Government. Granting
equality for same-sex relationships would rob the people who attack us of their
phoney justification – it’s the single biggest step our government
could take against homophobic harassment and violence....
and Samantha Pilgrim-Byrne:
discrimination in Medicare, superannuation, tax and
The issue of Medicare will be addressed specifically
as it affects us as a couple.
Areas which have
personally had a negative financial impact on us (other than Medicare) include
superannuation and taxation.
We have been
unable to take up our employer’s recent offer of superannuation splitting
as it is available to heterosexual de facto couples only, not homosexual de
facto couples. This will prevent us from enjoying financial benefits now and in
our retirement. We have also been unable to gain from taxation provisions which
allow for off-sets and the like.
are not recognised as a couple for the Medicare Safety Net, we are required to
meet out-of-pocket expenses as two single people. In 2006 this figure will be
$1,000 each (effectively $2,000 combined). If we were a heterosexual couple we
would be considered a family and this figure would be $1,000 combined ($500
each). The variance in this Safety Net would allow us to be able to claim a
higher rebate much earlier if we were considered a couple ... We are also
unable to register as a couple for the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and once
again pay twice the amount a heterosexual couple pays for
This is clearly discriminatory in
nature and manifestly unjust. Not only are we unable to gain financial benefits
through taxation or superannuation, we are required to pay twice the
medical expenses as heterosexual de facto
We cannot understand what possible
justification there is for such blatant discrimination. In Western Australia we
are considered a de facto couple for all state legislation; however, federally
we exist only as two single people.
Not only is
this financially damaging, it is also an emotional burden that we
shouldn’t be required to carry...
cared for one another for over a decade, we have legally changed our surname to
adequately reflect our family status within our community and still the
Government steadfastly refuses to acknowledge us as being interdependent
emotionally and financially.
extends to any children we may be fortunate enough to have. Although in Western
Australia we will both legally be parents, federally only the birth mother will
be considered the child’s parent. Social [s]ecurity will categorise us not
as a family but as a single mother with child. The non-birth mother will cease
to have any relationship with the child for all federal legislation. This is
financially and emotionally crippling to all concerned.
We are a family unit - our family
acknowledges it, our work colleagues acknowledge it and our community
acknowledge it; why then, can’t the Australian Government do the same by
affording us the same rights as heterosexual de facto
We sincerely hope that the Government
will, as a priority, rectify the areas of federal legislation where same-sex
couples are consistently treated as second-class citizens of Australia.
Same-sex, same rights.
discrimination in veterans’ entitlements and
I am a serving member of the ADF [Australian Defence
Force], and whilst there have been significant changes to entitlements following
the decision to recognise interdependent relationships in the military in
December 2005, I am still concerned regarding the lack of change to
superannuation and Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) benefits should
something happen to me on an overseas deployment.
I am very pleased with the fact that the
military has finally recognised the partners of gay and lesbian serving members
... Prior to the change occurring, I certainly had been materially and
financially disadvantaged in terms of postings, housing, allowances, travel, and
work opportunities, let alone the effect on my
The remaining barriers to be
overcome are in superannuation and DVA benefits. Whilst life is better in the
military as a serving member, should I die in service, then my partner will be
financially disadvantaged compared to if we were in a recognised heterosexual
I am continually bemused at the
federal government's concern that giving recognition to same-sex couples is
going to disintegrate the moral fabric of society. The implementation of changes
in the military came with a minimum of
The same could apply for the general
community, and I would hope that the outcome of this Inquiry will identify the
futility of continued discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. We're not
asking for new and unusual benefits, just to be treated in equality with those
in heterosexual relationships.
discrimination against children in family law, Medicare and federal
We are ... a same-sex couple and the parents of a
1-year old boy...
Just by way of some
background – we have been partners for 4 years. We cohabit in our
mortgaged home, are financially interdependent, and share equally all decisions
about our family. We are a genuinely happy and unified couple and believe that
we contribute positively to the fabric of our community. However, there are many
areas in which we do not receive equitable treatment under federal
Before our son was born, someone told us
that we’d never experience the impact of discrimination as acutely as when
it affected our children and how right they were. I’d like to start by
saying that in the eyes of the law, our son has only one legal parent –
his birth mother, Natasha. We have recently undergone lengthy and expensive
legal proceedings (incl. the hiring of a [s]olicitor) to have parenting orders
granted via the [Family Court]. Although we are very proud of this successful
application, the order simply tells us what we knew already to be true –
that our son is loved and cared for by his two mums, that he resides with us in
our home, that we are both economically responsible for him, that we share every
single decision about his care, welfare and
To secure the order we had to lay
bare information about how Natasha and I met, our living arrangement, our
financial position, our professions and working hours, how we came to have a
son, how we decided who was going to be the birth mother, how we look after him
given our working commitments, our plans for our son’s education, not to
mention the materials our house is constructed from, and after all of that our
son has ended up with less legal security than his counterparts with
heterosexual parents. At the end of this process Natasha and I have been granted
a watered down version of what heterosexual couples acquire
We don’t think we can
underestimate the importance of the State and Territory based legislative gains
that our community has fought so hard for – we’d like to illustrate
this by reference to another personal example. Unlike in Western Australia where
Parent 1 and Parent 2 appear on a child’s birth certificate thus
recognising the diversity of families, in QLD Natasha and I were unable to both
appear on our son’s birth certificate. We were allowed to leave the
‘father’ section blank (vs. having the word ‘unknown’
inserted in there) after Natasha swore an affidavit, again providing intensely
personal details that are no-one else’s business.
Every time I look at that document I feel
angry - upset that I’m invisible as a parent to my son because it denies
my rights, upset at the pressure that it puts on Natasha because it denies my
responsibilities, but the real pain comes in thinking that every time our son
looks at that document he is going to be reminded that he and his family are
pariahs in the eyes of the law.
And this is
where these issues hit home the hardest - when we look at our precious son at
this age where he’s no longer a baby but still not quite old enough to be
called a toddler and think ‘this little boy is being discriminated
against’ and we wonder how on earth we're going to begin to explain this
to him. No explanation makes sense because denying same-sex families rights is
not a decision based on good evidence or sound practice or logic or even what is
or who we are. It’s based on the personal conviction of conservative
Two areas that have impacted on
us significantly are the Medicare and Pharmaceutical safety nets. Again our
relationship is not recognised under [f]ederal law and this means we spend twice
as much as heterosexual couples before we get any rebates.
This has had a significant financial effect on
us as I am undergoing IVF procedures in order to conceive our second child,
which is a very expensive process involving significant amounts of medication
and medical procedures...
For almost 6 years Sharon worked as
[a psychologist] for the Royal Australian Navy...[T]he bulk of Sharon’s
Superannuation is with the Commonwealth scheme. In the event of her death and as
the nominated beneficiary I will incur a 30% tax rate on our money as I am not
recognised as her spouse.
All of these
constraints place enormous pressure on same-sex families and we are of the
belief that this contributes to the break down of relationships in our
 Many of these stories have been edited for
 Anthony Pannuzzo and Daniel Milano, Submission
 Bryce Petersen, Opening Statement, Launceston Forum, 25 September
 Eilis Hughes, Opening Statement, Melbourne Hearing, 27 September
 James Kim and Brian McKinlay, Opening Statement, Canberra Hearing, 20 October
 Janet Jukes, Submission
 Jim Woulfe, Opening Statement, Sydney Hearing, 26 July
 Kelly and Samantha Pilgrim-Byrne, Submission
 Name Withheld, Submission 55. The author of this submission has given the
Inquiry permission to publish his submission under his first
 Sharon and Natasha, Opening Statement, Townsville Forum, 12 October