Civil Celebrant or Commonwealth Registered Celebrant?

Section 39 of The Marriage Act in Australia should be changed back so as to clearly distinguish clergy from Civil Celebrants. The destructive change in 2003 should be seen for what it is – an attempt to destroy the civil celebrant program and a wonderful uniquely Australian social innovation.

Students of the International College met at Circular Quay in Sydney

Students of the International College met at Circular Quay in Sydney

THIS IS IN REPLY TO A GROUP OF NEW CIVIL CELEBRANTS WHO COMMENCED A PUBLIC DISCUSSION REGARDING WHAT WE SHOULD BE CALLED.
How very distressing to see these wounds opened up. But maybe opening this wound up it can be healed!

From the beginning we were “civil marriage celebrants” or “civil celebrants”. In 1977. When the dispute about what we should do emerged, the founding Attorney-General, Lionel Murphy, weighed in to publicly state (he was then a Judge of the High Court) that civil celebrants were to officiate at all the ceremonies the non-church world needed, in those days marriages, funeral and namings. We were to be seen as enriching the culture in every way we can.

In perhaps the most catastrophic day in the history of Civil Celebrancy, Sept 1 2003, a group of ignorant and/or malicious public servants in the Attorney-General’s Department ravaged the Civil Celebrant program by jumbling up civil celebrants with the fringe clergy. This was  a surprise change never envisaged, a change the clergy did not want, and we civil celebrants did not want.

We were stripped of our proud title of “Civil Celebrants” and cast into the dishonest and limited world of legal trivia and fear administration, which ignored 30 years of cultural and legal precedent. This recalcitrant act partly destroyed the vision of Lionel Murphy.

Since this catastrophic day I have been sick in the stomach regarding what passes for training in celebrancy.  We now have the ignorant setting syllabi for the new and untrained.

With due modesty may I ask members of this forum to read my book “Murphy’s Law and the Pursuit of Happiness: a History of the Civil Celebrant Movement”. It is well reviewed as “readable”. The history of celebrancy should be essential in every course of training. You can get the book from Yvonne on 1300 446 786. You can get it as an ebook on iBooks or at Amazon/Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Murphys-Law-Pursuit-Happiness-Celebrant-ebook/dp/B00GSYEDFK?ie=UTF8&keywords=Murphy%27s%20Law%20and%20the%20Pursuit%20of%20Happiness&qid=1384990080&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

If participants have some accurate information, we can then have the facts which will lead to discussions, which will lead to progress in the form of information — and inspiration to be better celebrants.

Finally, may I ask all celebrants to campaign strongly with the Attorney-General to restore our proud title of “Civil Celebrants” and restore our original purpose of being top class ceremony providers, and to rescue us from the morass of legal trivia which now passes for celebrancy.

Dally Messenger

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