Page 3568 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013
pleasure to repeal the ACT law on the grounds that it is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, it seems more likely that we will fight out a basic matter of principle through the legal complexity of a High Court case.
I have been asked by the federal Attorney-General not to commence this bill on the grounds that couples who marry under this law could be adversely affected because of the legal challenge. I have declined this and I do not accept the argument. I do not believe it is reasonable to pass a law in this place and then let it sit idle, un-commenced, until some unknown time in the future. While I am sorry that the commonwealth threat hangs over this law, the couples who marry will do so with their eyes open to the action that the commonwealth is taking.
People have fought for this right for long enough not to be put off by another legal challenge, and I do not expect it will detract from the joy of the first weddings to occur under the marriage equality act.
There is no longer any excuse, if there ever was, to discriminate against same-sex couples in our community. They are our children, our parents, our brothers, our sisters, our leaders, our business people, our mentors and our colleagues. But more than anything, they are our equals. The marriage equality act puts this fundamental principle and human right into law.
I would like to acknowledge a few people at this point. The dedication of the Deputy Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, to removing discrimination from the statute book exceeds well over a decade now. I refer also to the debates he has led on marriage equality within the ALP and nationally. Simon Corbell, the Attorney-General, remains unfazed as he progresses a long history of ending discrimination through our statute book in his role as Attorney-General. To Shane Rattenbury as well, for his cooperation and collaboration on this bill, I say thank you very much.
I acknowledge all the people who have participated in drafting and people within the ACT public service who have worked long and hard to see these laws come to the parliament today. I say to all of my Assembly colleagues on the Labor benches, to each and every one of you, that I am very proud to be the only leader of a Labor government in the country who leads a united team on this front.
No reasonable lawmaker ever sits down as they pass legislation and says, “These principles must stand for all time. Nothing must change the society or the environment in which this law is passed.” On the contrary, we do the best we can at the time we find ourselves in. We work with the knowledge and the comfort that our successors will adapt the laws of today to the society of tomorrow.
It is time for us to meet our responsibility and update the laws of the past for the society of today. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (10.47): “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. Every step toward the