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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 24 August 2017) . . Page.. 3406 ..

Firstly, I have listened very carefully to a lot of criticism from those opposite about the upcoming survey. I would note that we could have had a plebiscite back in February if the federal Labor opposition, colleagues of those present, had not opposed it in the federal parliament.

Secondly, I agree in part with Brendan O’Neill, a well-known left-wing activist, who says that he fears the totalitarian streak of those behind the push. The call for the federal parliament to get on with voting on the matter ignores the 12 or so times same-sex marriage has been put to the federal parliament already and been rejected.

Thirdly, I would like it on record that it is okay to say no. Plenty of good Australians and Canberrans have a reason to say no. It does not make them intrinsically bad, unkind or bigots; in fact, in the face of the kind of attacks that those on my side of the debate come under on a regular basis, you could argue that those people are going over and above what can reasonably be expected of anybody.

Marriage is based, in my view, on the concept of the Latin word “matrimonium”. “Matrimonium” means the making of a mother, the state of becoming a mother. Marriage is intrinsically about getting men to grow up and take responsibility for the women that they get pregnant. It is an essentially feminist or female focused concept for the sake of women and the children who grow in their wombs. Children deserve, wherever possible, to know their identity: who is their father and who is their mother. Marriage should mean that fewer women have to parent alone; it is a huge load for one person to carry. Nothing in the same-sex rights movement changes the biological reality that women bear babies, they grow them in their wombs, and society can support with structures that get men to grow up and take their roles seriously.

Over the past few years, and the past few weeks in particular, I have been inundated by representations from a large number of different ethnic and faith groups as well as people I know through other meetings, too frightened to voice their view for fear of being ridiculed or bullied by proponents of the change. People who have come to me are terrified that if they express their view they will be socially isolated and economically impacted because of their view. They fear being mocked and called names. It happens a great deal. They fear intolerance of their views.

I hope that in this place we encourage everyone to vote along the lines of their own faith and cultural and personal preferences, and not to be afraid but to have courage. There is nothing wrong with you if you think that marriage is an important institution as it is, that it is for the purpose of encouraging the keeping together of couples who produce children or who have children, to keep men with the mother of their children wherever possible, and wherever possible for those men to be present in those children’s lives. I just want to say that it is okay to say no.

Safe schools program

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (5.59): I unfortunately rise to speak in response to matters aired earlier in today’s proceedings. Canberra is an inclusive city, but if you heard the comments made earlier today by those opposite, you would be forgiven for getting a different impression.

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