FACTCHECK: Howard’s 2004 marriage definition
FACTCHECK – Did John Howard make marriage as only being for a man and a woman back in 2004?
“Now youâ€™ve probably heard that this definition of marriage was inserted into the legislation by John Howard in 2004. And itâ€™s trueâ€”Howardâ€™s government did insert this definition into the Marriage Act. But the same definition of marriage dates all the way back to an English court case from 1866, which Australian courts have repeatedly endorsed, including the High Court, which endorsed that same definition in 1991. So this has been the explicit common-law definition of Marriage, basically since 1866.
But not only have our courts defined marriage in this way for almost one and a half centuries, this very same definition of marriage was already in the Marriage Act before the Howard governmentâ€™s amendments. It just wasnâ€™t in the official â€œdefinitionsâ€ sectionâ€“it was hidden away in section 46.
So just to be absolutely clear, John Howard didnâ€™t invent this definitionâ€“all he and his government did in 2004 was to take a long-standing common-law definition of marriageâ€“a definition that already appeared in the Marriage Actâ€“and place it into the definitions section of the same Act.
So itâ€™s not a definition that John Howard came up with suddenly in 2004; the Australian courts had already formulated this definition well before that, and it was also already in the Marriage Act, but just in another part.”
– Tim Cannon