Page 5287 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 29 November 2017

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(a) affirming the ACT Government’s position in its submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill; and

(b) calling on the Commonwealth Parliament to take no steps that would undermine the ACT’s anti-discrimination framework.

Canberra is a proudly progressive city, and this month the ACT sent the clearest possible message, in voting yes, that we stood against discrimination in our laws. We recorded the highest yes vote for marriage equality in the country, at 74 per cent, a result people will remember for generations. I said in the Assembly before the postal vote closed that if we won we must take a moment to celebrate, and Canberra celebrated en masse with a seemingly spontaneous party that filled Braddon with people, love, and a bit of Cher. It was an incredible moment. It again placed Canberra on the national stage, a city recognised for inclusion, where major decisions happen not just on the hill or in the Assembly but in our streets as well. I take this opportunity to thank, for their huge contribution, the volunteers from all walks of life who came together to campaign against discrimination in our city, doorknocking, on the phone and at shopping centre stalls, and to thank the people who voted yes, people from all walks of life who stood up and said that all Australians should have the same dignity and status under law as everyone else.

It was very pleasing today to see the marriage bill pass the Senate: a historic moment. It is a great day for LGBTIQ Canberrans and Australians and their families. It is a time to reflect on ACT Labor’s proud history of removing discrimination and extending equality. Removing discrimination on gender, race, physical abilities, religion and sexual identity: those are our values. We have had a democratically elected Labor government in the ACT for going on 17 years and five elections, a government with a proud history of removing discrimination and extending equality in our laws. We are not in the business of adding to discrimination, and we will stand against attempts to impose discrimination and undermine our other fundamental values, our democratic values.

Today we again stand up for our values, our human rights, our democracy, and our city, because it is very concerning that, immediately after we have had an expensive national exercise overwhelmingly supporting the removal of discrimination in our federal marriage laws, conservatives in the federal parliament want to use this as an excuse to put in place new discrimination. Yet this is the debate that we have been having over the past week. After the divisive and hurtful survey, where people had their relationships open to debate and judgement, there is now a debate opening up new forms of judgment and discrimination against them.

We have heard the suggestion that, under Senator Paterson’s now withdrawn bill, a person or an entity that holds a relevant marriage belief may, despite any law, refuse to do an act including providing goods and services—refuse to provide cakes for gay weddings or transport to weddings. That is contrary to our current Discrimination Act protections in the ACT. We had a good bill in the federal parliament, moved by Senator Dean Smith and supported in the Senate today, that should be supported

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