IT'S BEEN less than two weeks since the USA made the historic legal decision to embrace marriage equality across all states, and just over a month since Ireland became the first country in the world to say yes to same sex marriage by popular vote.
In that time the pressure has continued to build within Australia to do the same, not via politicians' conscience voting but through a nationwide referendum, according to family lawyers.
Michael Kilmartin, family specialist at Gold Coast and Sydney firm Adams Wilson Lawyers, says the issue is not one for the politicians but one for the people, who must be trusted with reinventing the definition of marriage.
"Marriage as we know it has evolved over centuries and the concept of committed relationships continues to be a subject for social change," says Kilmartin.
"The American ruling is a landmark decision and while it's not legally binding on us, it puts social pressure on Australia to change."
Saying 'I do' is the only legal right not afforded to same-sex couples, with every other aspect of family law applying equally across all varying relationship circumstances including registering the birth of children, parenting issues and the division of assets in a split.
"Same sex couples already have the same family law entitlements as heterosexual couples. The only thing they don't have is the legal recognition of marriage," says Kilmartin.
Major international law firm and advocate for LGBTIQIA rights Ashurst is also on board with the cause, as Vice Chairman Mary Padbury announced the company's support for marriage equality (AME) throughout the world.
"Marriage equality has already been achieved in many of the other jurisdictions in which our firm has offices, including the UK, France, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and the US," says Padbury
"We believe our support of AME sends a strong message to all our people and clients and reaffirms our long-term commitment to the removal of discrimination in all areas of life."
On the first of last month the opposition introduced a bill to amend the Marriage Act, with parliamentary debate expected to occur on the topic later in the year.
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