Campaign to update the Commonwealth Marriage Act of 1961

Over 60 years have passed since some of the most progressive and inclusive marriage laws in the world were made law.Since 1961 they've also been updated to make room for all people to marry any people they like regardless of gender, and with updates for the marriage celebrant program.But it is 2023, it's time to bring the act up to speed for a modern and digital world, and for a modern wedding industry.We believe the current Marriage Act of 1961, as it is in 2023, is pretty good - but it could be better. It could do with some more changes: Marriage Act Plus.We propose two stages, the first to get NOIM witnessing over the internet to stay, then once that hurdle is cleared, to tackle the entire legislation.View the proposed changes below.

Stage 1: Witnessing a NOIM over the internet

Special COVID-19 laws allowed Australian marriage celebrants to witness a Notice of Intended Marriage over an Internet video call. In December 2023 those laws go away, we would like this COVID-era amendment to stick around long after the spicy cough.Witnessing the Notice of Intended Marriage remotely, over a video call, creates more opportunities for people to marry how, when, and where they want. Before COVID couples would need to sign physical paper notices in the presence of a celebrant or another authority, but through COVID we've had the opportunity to reduce that administrative load.It will reduce the time, expense, and stress related to being married in Australia according to Australian law.Download the letter below, make sure you put it on your celebrant letterhead, feel free to personalise it, and send it to your Federal Member of Parliament. Not sure who that is? Look it up on the letter details the reason for the change to stay, and includes responses from a survey of the celebrant population regarding the change.

Stage 2: The rest of the legislation

Stage 2: The rest of the legislation

Once we've gotten the NOIM witnessing over the internet into law, we've got the rest of the Marriage Act of 1961 in our sights.We're splitting this effort in half because NOIM witnessing online is already allowed by law but expires in December, whereas the rest of the desired changes may take some time to get through the wheels of parliament.Read and comment on the blog post on the Celebrant Institute website so we can work together as a celebrant community to bring the Marriage Act into the future.Some of the points we're tackling:Shortening the notice period from one month to three days.Modernising the paperwork e.g. the law requires the 'back' of a PDF to be signed.Clarifying and reinforcing what a prohibited relationship is, with medical and scientific insight into what it means for prohibited relationships. Most people don't know that you can marry your father's twin uncle today.Suggestions are welcomed.

Meliora Relinquo Quam Accepi

Let's leave the marriage act in better shape than we found it when we became a celebrant.Join your 10,000 odd celebrant colleagues and let's make the Marriage Act better for our couples and better for our workplace.

This campaign is for all Australian Commonwealth Authorised Marriage Celebrants, and supported by many of the recognised celebrant networks and associations, but this website and form letters are by Josh Withers and Sarah Aird of the Celebrant Institute.Contact for comment.

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