I stumbled across this newspaper article from 2042 last night…
Additional youth marriage equality reforms set to pass parliament
21 November 2042
Prime Minister Mary-Anne Leeding has welcomed news that Opposition Leader Cynthia Hodgkins-Bliss will provide bi-partisan support for a bill to legalise informed and consenting relationships for children over the age of 12 years.
It is understood the bill, titled The Rights of the Child (Safer Relationships and Marriage Equality) Bill 2042, will be co-signed by the leaders of both major parties and presented to parliament later today. Once passed, the law will ensure marriage equality and safety is extended to 12 year olds provided they can prove to registered marriage celebrants that they are in a genuinely safe, consenting and beneficial relationship.
Currently, marriage equality is only automatically open to people over the age of 14 after laws were reformed five years ago. However, younger children can apply through the courts to have their relationships recognised as marriage.
In a symbolic nod to the significant history of marriage equality and safety reform in Australia, the bill will come into effect on 14 December, exactly 25 years after the passage of Australia’s first marriage equality and safety laws.
Advocates for the reform have argued that the legislative changes are necessary to protect children after recent legal rulings determined that children below the age of 14 could be married on application to the courts and that parental consent was not necessary for the legal recognition of genuine relationships involving minors. They also point to marriage equality and safety reforms in Europe that has seen Australia once again lag in international human rights ratings.
Critics such as independent Senator Nathan Taylor have used parliamentary privilege to claim that the reforms essentially legalise paedophilia. However, it is estimated that there are less than 3,200 minors living in relationships that will be covered by the proposed laws and the majority of them are exclusively between consenting youth aged between 12 and 14 years.
The move comes after Mr Hodgkins-Bliss stared down rebel MPs in a party room meeting of the New Liberal Party last night and obtained majority support for the move.
“The courts have already spoken on this issue and this reform is long overdue. I am proud that the NLP will support it. We have been able to ensure that there are appropriate safeguards in the bill,” said Mr Hodgkins-Bliss.
“This approach combines the best of our party’s liberal and conservative traditions. We have ensured that social progress is achieved with the care and consideration necessary to address concerns about unintended consequences.”
“I will be co-signing this bill with the Prime Minister and it will pass parliament today. This is our democracy working at its best.”
Some NLP MPs informed this newspaper that internal support was achieved after it was argued that swift passage of the bill would ‘get the issue off the table’ and allow the Opposition to refocus political debate on its strength of economic reform in the lead up to next year’s election.
It is expected that several NLP senators will cross the floor in the Senate against the bill, arguing that it fails to adequately protect children from sexual coercion. However, the bloc of seven Australian Muslims United senators and three Traditional Greens senators will ensure that Mz Leeding’s Labor Greens Alliance government has the numbers necessary to pass the law.
Long-time child’s rights campaigner and leader of the Traditional Greens, Senator James Sinclair, confirmed that his party would support the bill despite concerns over unnecessary bureaucratic requirements.
“Of course we will continue to work hard to progress marriage equality and safety.”
“No one can explain why an arbitrary and unnecessary age limit of 12 years has been inserted into this bill,” Mr Sinclair said.
“However, this law will go some way to reducing dangerous and bigoted social stigma and providing a legal basis for the recognition of thousands of loving and safe relationships.”
“But it is ironic that the Traditional Greens are the only party looking to reduce hurtful and discriminatory red-tape that presents a barrier to equal love.”
The Traditional Greens have lodged three bills in parliament since 2039 to reduce the age of marriage equality and safety to 6 years and have indicated that they will continue to pressure the government over the issue.
It is expected that the passage of the laws will provide a boost to the Leeding government, with leading ethical, professional, business, community and human rights groups combining to campaign for the reforms since early this year.
Deputy Assistant Co-President of Marriage Equality and Safety Australia, Justin Smith-Hently-Thomas-Lang issued a statement praising the bill and the symbolic move to recognise the importance of marriage reforms over the past 25 years.
“We have advanced far beyond the hateful and divisive debate that caused so much hurt for LGBTQITASST+ Australians and are now officially adding ‘C’ to our rainbow of love,” Mr Smith-Hently-Thomas said.
“We live in a wonderfully diverse and tolerant society and it is clear that all arguments against these reforms are based on fallacies. I am married to three wonderful young men between the ages of 15 and 21 plus my long-time partner Debbie. The world has not ended but our love has been recognised.”
“However, there is still a long way to go before all love is legal and we will continue to fight against the hateful and bigoted pockets in our society who cling to outdated notions of family, parenthood and sexuality.”
President of the Australian Christian Lobby, Adam Gooding, declined to comment, citing anti-vilifications laws.
In response, Mr Smith-Hently-Thomas-Lang called for the enforced shutdown of the right-wing organisation, claiming that it was a threat to law abiding Australians.
“We all know that this extreme organisation secretly believes in anti-democratic, unlawful and dangerous philosophies. If it can’t publicly articulate its views without breaking the law the government should act to ban it for the safety of all Australians.”
Today’s other headlines
Debt reaches $7.2 trillion: Commonwealth debt has ballooned to over $7.2 trillion with the government proposing new marginal tax rates of 70% in order to combat spiralling costs. However, new leasing arrangements with the Chinese government have added more than $500 billion to government coffers in the last three years and the Treasurer hopes that an expansion of the program will ease the need for new taxes.
Riots continue in Sydney’s west: Riots have continued for a third day in Western Sydney between Muslim youths and pro-democracy groups after a gay night club was burnt down in suspicious circumstances. Police are monitoring the situation but are unable to intervene due to an agreement signed three years ago requiring police to obtain approval from local Muslim leaders before entering a number of suburbs.
Human Rights Commission equipped with new armoured vehicles: The Australian Human Rights Commission Enforcement Task Force will receive 12 new Tactical Armoured Vehicles at a cost of $370 million. The vehicles will provide new capabilities to the AHRC and allow it conduct operations against threat groups that endanger social cohesion. The Commonwealth is currently negotiating with state governments to establish a legal framework that will allow the AHRC to intervene in growing civil unrest such as that seen in Western Sydney in recent days.
Last independent Catholic school shuts: An independent Catholic school in Adelaide will shut at the end of the year citing financial impediments after all government funding for private schools ended ten years ago. It is the last school to be operated by a Catholic diocese anywhere in Australia, although it no longer applies Catholic teaching after it lost its license to provide religious education due to failing to prove any racial-heritage need to do so last year.
Victorian man jailed for hate crimes: A Victorian man has been jailed for seven years after making unlawful hate-crime comments about abortion rights activists. The man claimed post-birth abortion was equivalent to murder and that the activists had lost all sense of moral reality. A Victorian judge ruled that the comments could be seen as offensive and hurtful and that they contravened the right to death and non-traditional moral beliefs, adding that a lengthy sentence was necessary to send a strong message to the community that the expression of traditional views was now an extreme threat to social cohesion.
Clean sweep shows equality: The AFL Women’s Brownlow medal has been swept away for the third year by transgender superstars. All top three places went to females who have battled their assigned birth-gender for recognition as women. However, the AFL is likely to face new pay disputes after falling crowd numbers again mean that there are less funds to subsidise the struggling women’s competition, the Indigenous League and the Muslim Integration and Harmony League.