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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 February 2017) . . Page.. 440 ..

Our LGBTIQ friends, family and colleagues deserve acceptance and respect. The ACT government fully supports the LGBTIQ community and is committed to fostering equality at every level, from grassroots initiatives through to our schools, governance structures and legislation.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (10.24): As Attorney-General, I was delighted to work with and co-sign the submission from the ACT government on the commonwealth government’s exposure draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill. In it, we drew attention to a number of the areas of progress here in the ACT to minimise discrimination against members of the LGBTIQ community. We look forward to fostering a climate where equality can be achieved without a debate that descends into vilification. I was delighted to introduce, in my first week in this Assembly, legislation that enables easier recognition of overseas marriage, and I am even more delighted that the bill was passed by the Assembly yesterday.

Today I wish not only to speak as Attorney-General but as someone who has had the privilege, for nearly 25 years, of being able to share the lives of people as they have planned their marriage. Unfortunately, I have not kept count of the precise number of marriage services I have conducted, but I can assure you it has been quite a few.

There has been a great diversity during that time, from the first wedding I conducted right through to the most recent. Some of the couples have been quite young, starting out hopefully on a long life together; others have been more advanced in their years. For some, it has been the first marriage for both people; in other marriages, people have either been divorced or widowed and are entering into a second or subsequent marriage. Some of the couples have been planning a family and had spoken with me about the children and grandchildren for which they hoped; others have been very clear that they were not planning on having children; and others have joked with me, sometimes in relation to their age, and indicated that they are very glad that there is no real tie between marriage and child-bearing.

In some circumstances I have prepared and conducted weddings of people who have shared a particular faith framework; in other circumstances there have been very difference perspectives on matters of faith and religion; and in a great many, there has been no particular faith framework at all for the couple. I am aware that many of the couples that I have married are still married; and I am aware that many of them are not. Although I have not kept close records, my guess is that it is probably around the national average.

In each circumstance, in each preparation and in each wedding service, I have been acutely aware of the love that has been shared between them, and their desire to celebrate and acknowledge that love openly with family and friends in a marriage ceremony. We as a society rightly honour their right to make that choice and we celebrate with openness that intention.

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