Page 2911 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017
parliament should also move to change the definition to a much more inclusive one that reflects modern Australian values.
Of course, the ACT has legislated for marriage equality before. Ms Berry just spoke about that. I was very pleased and proud to be in this parliament on that day, when we supported that, and to share in the joy that that vote brought to members of the ACT community.
I do not share the view that Mr Coe and Mr Parton advanced today that the ACT government should not play a role in this. We have a duty to stand up for citizens in our community. At the moment those citizens are discriminated against and they should have equal opportunity before the Marriage Act, as they should have before any other act. So I do think there is a role for this government to lead and be part of this debate and to put very clearly an argument that equality is something that this government stands for, that this community should embrace.
I will, like many others, be voting yes for marriage equality when the ballot arrives in my postbox sometime in the coming weeks, assuming that the High Court challenge does not proceed. Despite the fact that I do not think we should be doing it this way now, the fact is that we are having this postal survey and I would encourage people to vote yes, to take the time to vote and to make sure that they stand up and say that it is time this country embraced true equality for all of our citizens, at least in this regard.
As the Minister for Mental Health, I am concerned about the impacts that this will have on some members of our community and some of the hurtful comments that will be made in coming weeks. I think that people are entitled to have a different opinion, but I would ask them to reflect, before making some of those comments, on the impact those comments can have and to think about measuring their comments in a way that is fair and respectful and not simply hurtful. We spoke yesterday afternoon about the safe schools program and I made my comments then about how important it is that people try to just walk that mile in someone else’s shoes before casting judgement or making comments that, frankly, are unfair and unwarranted in our community.
One of the practical ideas I would like to put on the table for the coming months is that here in the ACT we put in place a rainbow crossing. Members might recall that one was in place in Sydney many years ago before Duncan Gay spent quite a bit of taxpayers’ money on removing it. I think it is a small and practical example of the kinds of things we can do to make a statement about the importance of participating in the postal survey. It also provides that very real symbol of crossing the road and changing one’s mind and crossing over and thinking about other people’s perspectives. I am sure there will be many campaign ideas out there, but this is one we think could be a very practical and real example and a bit of fun through the course of this campaign.
I simply close by saying this: I think this is a very simple proposition. Love is love. If two people love each other and want to commit to that, particularly in a very public way before friends and family and celebrate their love, they should be entitled to do