Page 3570 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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Today’s legislation continues the tradition of nation-leading reforms from the ACT government. They are reforms that impact positively on the lives of thousands of Canberrans living in same-sex relationships, but reforms that also impact positively on parents who want their children to live happy, productive and healthy lives without having to experience fear, hate and discrimination. They are reforms that impact positively on brothers and sisters who have seen their siblings struggle with the unfairness of discriminatory laws, who felt guilty about the unequal treatment that our society dishes out.

Today, the sacrifice, the suffering, the struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of gay and lesbian Canberrans, their parents and their families find a voice and find a champion in this Assembly—in nine members of this Assembly. I said I would not cry this time.

I want to wish all of those couples who formalise their relationships under this law long and happy lives together. I know that their commitment will be recognised, celebrated and embraced by the vast majority of their fellow Australians. I commend this bill to the Assembly. Its passage will be an Australian first, and it is a fitting way to mark our city’s centenary year.

I thank all of my colleagues for their support of this legislation, particularly the Chief Minister, the Attorney-General, all of my Labor caucus colleagues and Minister Rattenbury for his very passionate support. It has been a team effort, and it is a delight to be here at this moment. I wish everyone who will undertake a ceremony with these laws all the very best.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (10.54): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this bill this morning, and I begin by congratulating the Attorney-General, Mr Simon Corbell MLA, for bringing this bill to the Assembly and all those who have championed this course of action for so long. I particularly acknowledge Mr Andrew Barr in relation to this journey.

Madam Speaker, as you know, the Marriage Equality Bill 2013 seeks to end the unreasonable legal discrimination against same-sex couples by making marriage possible under the Australian Capital Territory law for those couples who cannot marry under the commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 because of the way that “marriage” is defined is under that act.

This bill goes to the heart of the basic rights that all Australian citizens are entitled to, and it is really a pity that there is any question that this bill should not pass today. Marriage is a right and should be available to all, regardless of individual sexual orientation. This bill seeks to right this wrong—a wrong that has gone on for far too long—and it affirms the principles of equality as expressed in our human rights charter. I will not dwell on this any longer as I believe it is unreasonable and completely unacceptable for the status quo to continue any longer. I will, instead, proceed to outline why I made this decision to support this bill and why I believe it should be passed without further delay.

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