Page 2764 - Week 09 - Thursday, 8 August 2013
I will not go into the efforts that have been made in other Australian states by the state Greens, but they have been substantial, with equal marriage bills in the Victorian, South Australian, New South Wales, West Australian and Tasmanian parliaments.
Here in the ACT I am proud to say that we are making very positive ground on marriage equality. Members who were here last Assembly will recall that in 2009 I introduced civil ceremonies legislation as a way to advance this cause. Unfortunately, that only lasted a few weeks before the threat of being overruled by the federal government drove amendment to the ACT legislation. Of course, since then, the federal parliament has passed a Greens’ bill that removes the federal veto power over the territories—a great win for democracy and for the ability of the ACT to make decisions over its own future as we head into our second century.
I want to make the point that point 3 of the parliamentary agreement between the ACT Greens and ACT Labor promises to legislate for marriage equality. I congratulate the local Labor Party for their strong commitment to this reform, evidenced partly, of course, by Dr Bourke bringing this matter to the Assembly today. It will not be long before we have the opportunity in this chamber to consider the issue of marriage equality when legislation is presented, as outlined in the spring program presented earlier today by the Chief Minister.
I do urge all members in the chamber to think about this issue carefully, to look into their consciences, to consider the thousands of submissions from people in the ACT and across Australia calling for marriage equality and to think about the people they might know who are gay or lesbian and who, like all of us, are sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, friends and members of our community and who all feel love just as strongly and legitimately as anybody else.
It is heartening to see that many MPs are listening to what the community is telling them and are starting to see marriage equality as a matter of basic fairness. I know the federal Labor Party has changed its party platform in support of legalising same-sex marriage while allowing a conscience vote. I hope it will not be long before we vote on this issue in our current ACT parliament.
It is time to remove marriage discrimination forever in the ACT and, indeed, around Australia. It is a basic human right for every person to have their love recognised by marriage if they so choose, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. Like thousands of people around Australia—it seems, from what the polls tell us, the majority of people—that is a day I am very much looking forward to.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (4.56): I also thank Dr Bourke for bringing this discussion to the floor of the Assembly today. As Dr Bourke and Mr Rattenbury have indicated, the government is in the process of establishing legislation, the drafting of legislation, to establish a same-sex marriage scheme here in the ACT, and of course this is consequent upon the failure of the federal parliament to resolve this question and the almost certain probability that the federal parliament will