Page 443 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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representatives of the ACT, must call on the Turnbull government to allow a free vote on the floor of the federal parliament and amend the commonwealth Marriage Act. A plebiscite is not the way for us to achieve marriage equality. We know that LGBTIQ people were deeply concerned by the idea that their sexual identity would be the spark for a national debate fuelled by ignorance and hate speech. A free vote will cost nothing to the taxpayer. It will see marriage equality easily passed through both houses of parliament and it will create a fairer and more inclusive Australia.

It is time for us to continue the fight for all LGBTIQ Australians and to strive towards a society where everyone is accepted and valued for who they are. We know that an overwhelming majority of the population supports marriage equality. We have seen the positive impact here in the ACT and around the world that equal recognition of same-sex couples has on building a supportive and inclusive society.

LGBTIQ-identifying people deserve the basic right to be able to marry the person who they love. By withholding that right, the federal government is delivering a message of unacceptance and further marginalising people in our community. We must recognise that love is love. I, like many of us in this place, have friends and family who wish they could marry the love of their life, but they simply cannot. There is no logical reason as to why, as a woman, I can marry a man and be easily accepted in society but a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman cannot. It is time for us to remove this unjust discrimination from the commonwealth Marriage Act and it must be done now.

I am proud to stand with all of my Labor colleagues in supporting the fight for marriage equality. I know that if we continue to stand up to the conservative minority, we will prevail. I hope that we can all join together in this place today to help deliver marriage equality for all Canberrans and Australians.

MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (10.52): I thank Mr Pettersson for bringing this motion forward today. We have heard from members today about the wonderful achievements of this government in standing up for our same-sex-attracted brothers and sisters. We have heard how this government has advocated for an inclusive and equitable city and we have heard how we consistently stand up against bigotry, discrimination and division, wherever it occurs, whether in the schoolyard, the workplace or the street. This stance is not merely symbolic; it has real consequences for real Canberrans. These significant achievements are a matter of both pride and principle. These are not achievements of the government alone. These are achievements of the people of the Australian Capital Territory. Without their support we could not have come so far, so fast.

Canberrans have consistently proved themselves to be the country’s most compassionate and egalitarian people. For Canberrans, and for Labor, equality is not about lip service. Equality and solidarity are our core values. Standing up against bullies is never easy, but with the community’s continued support and endorsement it is something we have consistently done. Sometimes I hear the most hateful language from across the lake. I hope we do not hear it from those across the chamber.

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