Page 2903 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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(3) calls on the ACT Government not to provide ACT taxpayer resources to either the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ case.”.

It calls for a respectful debate and for no ACT taxpayer money to be spent by the ACT government on either side of this debate.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (12.01): I am proud to stand in support of the Chief Minister’s motion today. I promised the community at the election last year that I would fight for a more inclusive community, and that means marriage equality. I will be voting and vigorously campaigning for marriage equality in Australia. In doing so I will be following the long line of ACT Labor members in this place who have fought for reform to make our community more inclusive for LGBTIQ Canberrans, including enacting marriage equality before it was struck down by the High Court on the challenge of the Liberal government.

Politics is personal, and marriage equality is one of the most personal issues to many people in our community, including me. I would not mind getting married one day. I have been in a relationship with my partner for around seven years, but we cannot get married under law. And there are thousands of couples across the ACT who are in similar situations and cannot get married. Many have been waiting decades to make their commitment to each other. What this fundamentally comes down to is a simple matter of equality before the law. It is hard to argue with. LGBTIQ Canberrans should have the same opportunities for love, commitment and happiness in marriage as everyone else. It is as simple as that.

It is hard not to think about marriage at the age of 31 because I have found that at my age you tend to attend a lot of weddings and a lot of stag dos as well. Weddings are happy occasions and they give us an opportunity as friends and family to share in the commitment of two people who love each other. But every time the celebrant is forced to read John Howard’s words—marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others—there is no other way to read that passage than as a reminder that in the law gay people are excluded from this simple but important right. It is a reminder to me that as my friends get married I cannot. It is jarring, antiquated, and embarrasses the bride, the groom, the celebrant and the guests in the audience. I have been to weddings where they have a sign out the front noting that the bride and groom have an opposition to the Marriage Act and support marriage equality.

The fact is that our marriage laws do not reflect Australian values and they should be changed. The Australian parliament must remove this simple discrimination in the law and legislate for marriage equality. The fastest path to marriage equality is through a free vote in the federal parliament. Laws are made in our parliament. It should have been done this week, last week, last year, in the last parliament. But now we have a postal survey, a non-binding, voluntary survey costing all of us $122 million, all of this to deal with an issue that could be dealt with today.

This is why I say to the people in the LGBTIQ community: I know that over the past week since the announcement of the postal survey you have felt hurt, frustrated and

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