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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 August 2016) . . Page.. 2647 ..

Senators or far north Queensland lower house members. We will stand firm in our support for that program.

A plebiscite is not the best way to achieve this outcome and many people have gone on the public record in recent times to express concern. But if there is to be a plebiscite, then it is critically important that this government support our community through that process. The motion Ms Burch has moved today will provide guidance to the ACT government and to the ACT public service on how this should be managed. We will support our LGBTI communities; we will campaign strongly for a yes vote for marriage equality. And we will particularly be supportive during this year’s SpringOUT Pride Festival, which will be held in October and November.

We will support ACT government employees participating in constructive and informed discussions on the issue, and we will ensure that through our government we will support this community. We will advocate for marriage equality and we will do so in a way that is respectful and recognises that there are other opinions, but that we are prepared to be leaders to support a fairer and more inclusive society, because that is a real value and advantage for Canberra over other parts of this country. That is what sets us apart; that is what makes this the best city in Australia to live in, and it is the sort of leadership that you expect from the national capital. I urge members to support Ms Burch’s motion. (Time expired.)

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.12): I thank Ms Burch for bringing on this motion today and for her passionate speech in favour of marriage equality in Australia. It is my pleasure to be able to speak in response to this motion on behalf of the ACT Greens. Marriage equality would give individuals one of the most important rights that exist: the right for each person to choose whom they love and to ensure that they have that love recognised by each and every one of us.

Let me say up-front that the Greens, both nationally and here in the ACT, strongly support moves to reform the Marriage Act in order to achieve marriage equality. Here in the ACT we have been campaigning and legislating against laws which discriminate against LGBTIQ people for some considerable period of time. Across the country the Greens have been doing this since the 1980s. Globally, our society has come a long way in terms of improving the rights of people in these groups. We have seen marriage equality achieved in many places around the world.

Australia is often a world leader when it comes to achieving a fairer and more progressive outcome for vulnerable groups, but on this issue we are still waiting and we are too far behind. I am sad and I am sorry that people have been left waiting to marry the people they love for such a long time. But there is no doubt in my mind that the time will come when we do achieve equality for LGBTIQ Australians. That road might seem long, but with every day we get a little bit closer to making that dream a reality.

In 2015 the ACT saw the early beginnings of the joy that this legislation can bring to a community. When we deny people the same legal standing or the same recognition as other people, we send the message that somehow they or their relationships are worth less than others. This message is wrong; it is outdated; and, frankly, it is cruel. We must change it for all Australians and we will change it for all Australians.

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