Happy anniversary? Reflecting on marriage equality

Call for papers for

Happy Anniversary? Reflecting on Marriage Equality

12th – 13th November 2018, Australian National University

Confirmed speakers include: Rosemary Auchmuty – University of Reading, England; Tiernan Brady – Marriage Equality Campaigner (Australia and Ireland); Quinn Eades – La Trobe University; Anja Hilkemeijer – University of Tasmania; Carol Johnson – University of Adelaide; Gemma Killen - ANU; Neha Madhok – Democracy in Colour; David Paternotte –  Université libre de Bruxelles.

Symposium organisers:

  • Katrine Beauregard (School of Politics and International Relations)
  • Kevin Boreham (ANU College of Law)
  • Simon Copland  (School of Sociology)
  • Anne Macduff (ANU College of Law)
  • kerry Price  (School of Sociology)
  • Mary Lou Rasmussen (School of Sociology)

Symposium thematic:

November 2018 will mark the one-year anniversary of Australia’s yes ‘vote’ in the Marriage Equality Postal Survey. This vote represented a significant moment in the fight for LGBTIQ rights in Australia, as well as in global campaigns for marriage equality. Over the past decade there has been an increasing trend for countries to legislate for marriage equality, either through the passage of laws through Parliament, judicial decisions based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination, or through national votes. Despite this momentum, marriage equality remains a site of contention. Struggles over same sex marriage pose a distinct set of dilemmas, especially when governments determine the question using direct democracy. What are the implications of such processes for LGBTIQ people, their families and communities? What sorts of proxy debates erupt in relation to these ballots? What kinds of precedents do such ballots create?

Coinciding with the first anniversary of the survey announcement in November 2017, this symposium engages with the legacy of the Australian, as well as international, campaigns for marriage equality. It will dive into debates about the value of marriage equality, the nature of marriage equality campaigns, and the value, or not, of public votes on rights-based issues. This symposium focuses on two overlapping streams: Marriage Campaigns and Marriage Debates.

Queer and feminist debates regarding marriage, and marriage equality in particular persist. Some continue to argue that the rights provided by marriage equality fail to satisfy as citizenship rights invariably rely on the exclusion of those who do not or cannot fit. Twelve months after the event, has people’s thinking shifted? Might legislating for marriage equality incite new forms of resistance to marriage? As Annamarie Jagose argues “important questions of social justice, equity and social belonging cannot get worked out across such an absurdly constrained and increasingly irrelevant category as marriage”. However, for many the passage of marriage equality has major symbolic significance because of its capacity to authorize diverse relationships and kinship affiliations. Marriage equality also has the potential to inspire creative new forms of marriage and associated rituals and arrangements.

Day one begins with Simon Copland in conversation with Tiernan Brady. Brady led the “Yes Equality” campaign in Ireland and was the Executive Director of the Equality Campaign in Australia. The Q and A is followed by an invited panel bringing together Quinn Eades, Neha Madhok and Gemma Killen – three researchers/activists who have have made significant contributions to campaigns and debates about marriage equality in Australia. This panel will explore their reflections on the campaign, specifically considering how their thinking/feeling about marriage may have changed in the year since the vote.

The Happy Anniversary event will also have a strong focus on legal and political issues associated with marriage equality campaigns. Our international Keynote Speakers are Rosemary Auchmuty and David Paternotte. Auchmuty is a feminist legal scholar with a strong interest in gender and sexuality. Paternotte researches same sex marriage campaigns in diverse international contexts as well as taking an interest in movements opposed to gender, feminism and LGBTQI rights. Invited speakers also include Carol Johnson, whose research interests include gender and sexuality in Australian politics and Anja Hilkemeijer, a legal scholar who considers how debates about religious and sexual freedom intersect with human rights discourses.

Despite the success of the yes campaign in Australia, the Marriage Equality Postal Survey remains a site of contention within LGBTIQ circles. Some argue that the survey unleashed a “barrage of bigotry” against LGBTIQ people, resulting in more harm than good, while others contend that the vote represented an opportunity to engage with the broader community on an LGBTIQ issue. We invite papers that interrogate the process of campaigning, as well as critiques and debates of marriage as an institution, and marriage equality as an issue for LGBTIQ communities. We welcome comparison regarding the different strategies used to pass marriage equality across the world. We also invite papers that interrogate votes, such as those in Australia and Ireland, and about the decision to settle rights-based questions using direct democracy and the resulting consequences for people within and outside targeted minorities.

We invite contributions from all research levels, activists and community groups, and encourage the contributions of minority groups.

Key dates/timeline: 

  • Paper abstracts (300 words max) and an author biography (approx. 100 words) should be sent to the email address below by 30 July 2018
  • Acceptance notifications by 15 August
  • Registration opens 1 September and closes 31 October
  • Provisional/draft timetable by 1 September

Please send abstracts to this address, with “Happy Anniversary” in the subject line: sociology.events@anu.edu.au

For inquiries please contact Mary Lou Rasmussen: marylou.rasmussen@anu.edu.au

Event registration:

  • $50 per day registration for salaried presenters/attendees

($100 total for 2-day registration)

  • $12.50 per day registration for graduates and unsalaried presenters/attendees

($25 total for 2-day registration)

Please note this fee includes refreshments and lunch.


This is the signature event of the ANU Gender Institute for 2018. It is also supported by the ANU School of Sociology and the ANU School of Politics and International Relations, and by the ANU College of Law.

PDF icon HappyAnniversaryCFP.pdf239.42 KB




ANU, Gender Institute

Date posted

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Updated:  7 November 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute