Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 14 February 2017) . . Page.. 370 ..
I know that many people in the LGBTIQ community feel that civil unions remain second-class recognition by our society of their commitment to each other. Marriage equality can only take place by changing the commonwealth Marriage Act, but until the time arrives when Australia ends marriage discrimination, many Australian couples are taking the opportunity to travel to other countries where their parliaments have enacted marriage equality and where the gender of those making their vows makes no difference.
Couples should not be forced into the terrible and yet joyous choice to be married overseas because they cannot get married in Australia. I can only imagine the mixed feelings about their country that these couples must have as they embark. On the one hand we have a very supportive population on this issue but on the other hand the federal legislators continue to collectively refuse to recognise in our federal law their love and commitment. But while we wait and advocate for marriage equality this bill will support ACT residents who have chosen to travel overseas to get married and it will also support the many same-sex couples from overseas who are recognised in their own countries but who have travelled to the ACT.
While this bill is a step forward to achieving improved equality for LGBTIQ people it is far from ideal. Despite these welcome changes, this bill does not and cannot provide for true marriage equality. The ACT Labor government is committed to continue to advocate and ensure equality before the law. We must continue to advocate for marriage equality through the commonwealth Marriage Act. It is about acknowledging that love and commitment between a man and another man or a woman and another woman should be recognised and respected through the symbolic and legal contract of marriage, and members of this place will have another opportunity to make their voice heard and known on this issue tomorrow.
I hope that we reach a time soon when we all can choose to get married here in the ACT regardless of who we are or our sexuality. We continue to fight for marriage in Australia but until that time our legislature can ensure that automatic recognition of marriages overseas can occur through our civil union laws. This bill introduced by Mr Ramsay is pragmatic. It provides recognition and protection to those who are recognised overseas as married.
This bill also demonstrates the ACT’s ongoing commitment to an inclusive and progressive society that ends discrimination in all of the ACT’s laws. I commend this bill to the Assembly.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.23): I am delighted and proud on behalf of the ACT Greens to speak in support of the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill. In particular I want to speak in relation to the amendments that allow couples in same-sex relationships who have married in jurisdictions where it is legal to be married to have their marriages recognised under our Civil Unions Act. The Greens have always believed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and queer people should be treated equally under our laws and by our community. We have been the only party consistently resolute in standing up for marriage equality—no ifs and no buts.