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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1763 ..

government here in the ACT because of the progressive policy that it has adopted. We should have been allowed to pursue it in accordance with the laws that have been laid down by the federal parliament. I think we folded our tent too early.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (2.05 am): This is a very sad day as we debate in this place a bill which is so much less than we had hoped—so much less because of the gross interference by the religious right that Mr Barr spoke so passionately about. It is not the whole Christian church, of course; Christian friends of mine believe in equality and fairness and the right of people to have their loving relationships recognised and celebrated, no matter who they are. And yes, the state and church should be separate. Why is this not so in this case?

My niece, happily, was able to have her loving relationship with her partner recognised through British law—as her partner is a British subject—and recognised through a wonderful ceremony. Those two women are fortunate indeed. Their mother, my sister, I know, is feeling with all of those who are distressed and disappointed tonight and with us right now as we face this night of regret, this night of disappointment and this night of a small step which we had hoped would be a great leap in the right direction.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (2.07 am): This piece of legislation has been immersed in controversy since its introduction in its original form. One would have had to have one’s head buried in the sand not to be well abreast of the developments in relation to the Stanhope government’s push for civil unions or partnerships in the ACT. I am anxious to make sure my position on this matter is understood.

I do not subscribe to the opposition to people involved in same-sex relationships having the rights from discrimination enjoyed by heterosexual couples. I do not support discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference, particularly in the context of this discussion—or other criteria such as race—and not confined to but especially in relation to the employment environment, which is an area that I feel still needs attention.

Couples in same-sex relationships should be able to access things like superannuation and so on in the same fashion as traditional partners are able to. There should be no legal discrimination against same-sex couples. The announcement by the federal Attorney-General last week—I have not heard much regard given to this tonight but I may have missed it because I had to make some late calls—that he would be moving to remove any remaining barriers when the parliament returns is welcome.

I do, however, hold to the view that marriage is between a man and a woman. In making that statement, I am certainly not a captive of the religious right, as Mr Berry and Ms Porter have been referring to tonight. I am a Christian, and no doubt that colours my thinking on these matters, but I certainly have no accommodation for bigotry or any of the sorts of hostilities that have been touched on tonight. I will certainly support this bill, which allows same-sex couples to be recognised and registered. I believe that systems that have been developed in other jurisdictions like Tasmania should serve as a model, but I believe that the institution of marriage should remain between a man and a woman.

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