Page 5465 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2011

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I was interested to hear Mr Seselja’s comments earlier in the debate that marriage is special and marriage is something that goes beyond the power of parliaments to grant. If that is the argument, I look forward to his proposal to repeal civil provisions around marriage and recognise it for the social construct that it is. But I do not think that he is going to be doing that. But I was also interested in his comments because he seemed to suggest that, because marriage was special, because it was different from perhaps other laws that parliaments made, we should not be progressing the reforms that so many people in this place and indeed across Australia yearn for.

If that is his position, why does he also argue against other reforms such as civil partnerships or civil unions? Surely they are substantively different from marriage. So what we see here is a retreat from the conservatives. First of all, they opposed same-sex relationship recognition. Then they opposed legislation that granted legal arrangements to formally allow people in same-sex relationships to enter into a partnership, firstly through civil unions and then through civil partnerships, and when they have been unsuccessful on those arguments, they now rally around the last bastion of their discriminatory world view, which is the Marriage Act. That position, I think, is completely untenable.

We have heard some interesting arguments from those opposite, but fundamentally it is a discriminatory position and a position that suggests that those who are in same-sex relationships are different, that the nature of their relationship is somehow less loving or less caring or less committed than that of those who are able to enter into a marriage and that those people should be denied that opportunity. It is simply a proposition that in the government’s view, in this Labor government’s view, is untenable.

That is why this motion is important tonight. It is important because we reaffirm the fundamental principles that underpin why reform to the Marriage Act is so necessary—to tackle discrimination, to remove inequality, to recognise that all adults in consenting, legal relationships are able to enter into marriage. That is a simple but fundamental principle that all members of this Assembly should support, and it dismays me yet again that the conservatives on the other side refuse to recognise these fundamental and simple truths.

Ordered that the question be divided.

Question put:

That amendment No 1 be agreed to.

Ayes 10

Noes 5

Mr Barr

Mr Hargreaves

Mr Coe

Mr Smyth

Dr Bourke

Ms Hunter

Mr Doszpot

Ms Bresnan

Ms Le Couteur

Mr Hanson

Ms Burch

Ms Porter

Mr Seselja

Mr Corbell

Mr Rattenbury

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

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