By Michael Baggot

CANBERRA, Australia, April 30, 2008 ( – The Australian government announced today that it will change around 100 federal laws in order to grant homosexual couples extensive legal and financial benefits, but will not change legislation forbidding same-sex “marriage”.

The new laws will afford same-sex couples benefits previously reserved to married couples.  For instance, children raised by same-sex couples will be deemed dependents for tax and unemployment benefits purposes.  Also, same-sex couples will qualify as “family units” with regard to pension considerations.

While the legislative overhaul, expected to be complete by mid-2009, affects social security, health, aged care, veterans’ payments, and employment entitlements, the government decided not to redefine marriage.

“The government believes that marriage is between a man and a woman so it won’t amend the marriage act,” said Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

Pro-homosexual activists are pleased with the law changes, but disappointed that the Federal Marriage Act, defining marriage as union of one man and one woman, was not altered.

“Gay and lesbian Australians will not be fully equal until we are allowed the right to marry the partner of our choice,” claimed Rodney Croome of the Australian Coalition for Equality.

In an opinion article in today’s, Croome compared the mistreatment of individuals with homosexual inclinations, to past mistreatment of slaves and women.

“Indeed, in centuries past the second-class status of blacks and women was sealed by laws that denied them the right to marry the partner of their choice in much the same way same-sex partners are denied that right today,” wrote Croome.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, has been an outspoken critic of the sort of comparisons Croome drew today.

In an October 2007 essay, Pell decried a “false analogy drawn between alleged discrimination against homosexuals and racial discrimination.”

“Opposition to same-sex marriage is therefore likened to support for laws against inter-racial marriage (which continued in some US states until the 1960s), and opposition to homosexual adoptions is likened to refusing to adopt children to black parents.”

“The analogy is false because allowing blacks and whites to marry did not require changing the whole concept of marriage; and allowing black parents to adopt white children, or vice versa, did not require changing the whole concept of family, or for that matter, the whole concept of childhood,” Pell explained.

Efforts to gain legal recognition for same-sex “marriages” has been part of an on-going battle in Australia.

In June 2006, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed a law that gave same-sex unions practically all of the rights and benefits given to married couples.  In response, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock had Governor-General Michael Jeffrey declare the ACT law invalid because it made same-sex civil unions too similar to marriage.

See previous coverage:

Australia’s Cardinal Pell Warns of Coming ‘War’ on Church from Biotech, Gay ‘Rights’, Islamic Fears

Australia Strikes Down Law Recognizing Same-Sex Unions

Australian Government Will Overrule Gay “Marriage” Law

First Australian Territory to Grant All Marriage Rights to Same-Sex Unions