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The Commission identified 58 Commonwealth law statutes and provisions that explicitly discriminate against same-gender couples by using the term 'member of the opposite sex'.

The report found that 100 statutes and provisions under federal law discriminated against same-sex couples by using the term "member of the opposite sex", from aged care, superannuation, childcare, Medicare (including the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) through to pensions.

Under the Australian Constitution the Federal Government only has certain, enumerated, powers, which under Section 51(xxi) merely relate to 'marriage'.

States would have to refer their residual powers to the Commonwealth to allow a national registered partnership, civil union or same-sex relationship scheme.

In April 2014, a federal court judge ruled that a heterosexual couple who had a child and lived together for 13 years were not in a de facto relationship and thus the court had no jurisdiction to divide up their property under family law following a request for separation.

These failed attempts came after the Howard Government amended the law in August 2004 to exclude same-sex marriages.

The Australian Capital Territory passed a same-sex marriage law in December 2013, though this was struck down by the High Court on the grounds that such a law could only be introduced by the Commonwealth.

Two people can become a de facto couple by entering into a registered relationship (i.e.: civil union or domestic partnership) or by being assessed as such by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.

Couples who are living together are generally recognised as a de facto relationship and thus able to claim many of the rights and benefits of a married couple, even if they have not registered or officially documented their relationship.

As a result of these reforms same-sex couples were treated equally with heterosexual couples under most areas of federal law.

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