One suprising aspect of the 2005 Private Lives report, to date the biggest survey of gay Australians, was the limited expressed interest in a ‘commitment ceremony’. Just over half of gay men and 40% of lesbians in a relationship said they had no intention of having such a ceremony.
It’s never been clear whether this meant that there was little gay interest in gay marriage, a reluctance to commit to their particular current partner, or whether it was the nature of a ‘commitment ceremony’ with no legal or accepted community status that meant support was low.
Another survey of gay Australians carried out this year finds that there is strong gay support for gay marriage. Only 1% favour no legal recognition, and more than three-quarters support gay marriage.
However, in response to the question
“If you are or were to become involved in a long-term committed same-sex relationship, in what way would you prefer Australian law to recognise your relationship?
just over half chose marriage, with most of the rest preferring either some other form of federal relationship recognition (28%) or de facto status (15%).
So while the overwhelming majority of gay people think that gay marriage should be an option, only a slim majority personally aspire to it. By contrast, a 2008 survey of young Australians found that about 80% expect to marry. Gays and straights seem to aspire to different things in their romantic relationships.