This paper examines marriage in multicultural and multi-faith Australia. It considers the history of, and reasons for, State recognition of marriage in Australia between one man and one woman entered into voluntarily for life. It argues that the tradition in Australia since European settlement has been for the State to only recognize this traditional form of marriage as marriage. The paper considers the meaning of equality and discrimination and argues that for those concepts to have meaning in the context of marriage it is first necessary to have a clear understanding of why the State does and should continue to have any role in marriage. The paper argues that tradition and empirical evidence support the continuation of State recognition of traditional marriage. The paper also examines the absence of State recognition in Australia of other conceptions of marriage including certain forms of marriage within the Islamic tradition, all cultural marriages celebrated within the traditions of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples and marriages between two persons of the same sex. It argues that tradition and empirical evidence do not presently support the redefinition of marriage to include State recognition of these forms of marriage. The paper concludes that there are powerful grounds for preserving the current definition of marriage in Australia and that it should be preserved.

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