Page 3573 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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Here in the ACT the Human Rights Act, an initiative of the Stanhope government and an Australian first, introduced important new duties for the executive and the legislature to ensure all policy, administrative action and legislation could be compatible with human rights principles. Consideration and debate about human rights are now an integral part of government action, and all Canberrans benefit.

The Gallagher government, in this strong Labor tradition of progressive social change, stands up for marriage equality. Marriage equality is fundamentally about human rights—the right of two loving adults who are committed to sharing their lives to have their relationship formally recognised as a marriage. It is simply wrong to treat a same-sex couple differently, to deny them the right to have that formal recognition of their relationship as a marriage.

Our next door neighbour New South Wales is considering legislating for marriage equality after a report by the social issues standing committee of the New South Wales Legislative Council that was tabled in July this year. New South Wales Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has voiced his support, and a bill has been drafted by a cross-party group of Liberal, National, Labor and independents for introduction to the New South Wales Parliament.

Across the Tasman in New Zealand the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act to allow gay marriage was passed on 19 April 2013 with deafening applause in the parliamentary chamber. In the US, individual states have legislated to allow same-sex marriage, and across the world at least 15 countries have now legislated to allow same-sex marriage. Here, at home, it is what our community, the people of Canberra, want, and it is supported by the vast majority. In fact, most Canberrans do not see why there is such a fuss. They are astonished that marriage equality has not already been enacted. Let’s get on with it.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (11.05): I start by recognising the work of Ivan Hinton and his family for the work they have undertaken to get this legislation here. To paraphrase the man himself, this fight takes up his day. It is time he could be spending with his partner, Chris, time that he could spend renovating, watching TV, volunteering and preparing to welcome children into his home.

Reading the things that Ivan writes about the sacrifices he has made for this cause got me thinking that, amongst the talk of equality and recognition, we do not talk enough about what this legislation means personally. Seeing the number of people here today, it is fair to say that this is personal to a lot of people. So in recognition of this, I asked four Canberrans I know—two couples—to write my speech for me by sharing their marriage equality stories. This is Chris and Dylan's story:

We are Chris and Dylan. We’ve been together for almost six and a half years. In that time we’ve grown together, both as individuals, and as a couple. We’ve had our share of ups and downs—some wonderful times and some not so wonderful times. But what keeps us together throughout all of this is the love and commitment we share for one another.

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