I believe that at its heart, marriage equality is about removing discrimination from our laws. It is a recognition that love between two people of the same gender is of equal meaning, equal value and entitled to equal respect. Marriage equality is a simple, overdue change to Australian law our Parliament could deal with in one day of considered debate culminating in a free vote.
Since the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality, to the present day, Labor Governments have consistently been at the forefront of removing discrimination and fighting for the equal rights of LGBTI Australians.
Labor went to the last election with a clear and unambiguous policy that if elected, we would introduce within the first hundred days legislation to make marriage equality a reality across our nation. We believe that the best option for attaining marriage equality is to have a conscience vote in the Parliament on the issue in this term of the Parliament. We are confident there is enough support in the parliament if a conscience vote were to take place to make marriage equality a reality within the first few weeks of parliament.
Labor is calling on Mr Turnbull to show leadership and consider allowing this to happen. It would be a much-needed display of bipartisanship and would avoid a potentially hurtful public debate.
Other countries had to have a vote because that’s what the laws of those countries required. We don't need to have a plebiscite. Given that we can have a vote in Parliament; do we really need to spend $160 million or more funding the yes and no case on a plebiscite which is basically an opinion poll with no binding effect on the members of Mr Turnbull's party?
I believe it is the responsibility of the elected representatives in our national parliament to grapple with the many challenging questions we face as a nation, including long overdue social reforms such as marriage equality.
The simple truth is that marriage equality could be achieved very soon if Mr Turnbull allowed his party a free vote and a chance to do their jobs as representatives of the Australian people, the large majority of whom want marriage equality to be made a reality now.
I have previously supported changing the Marriage Act and, whilst I acknowledge that not all my constituents agree, I believe it’s time for our laws to reflect the values of modern Australia and to include everyone as equals.
It’s time for marriage equality.
A copy of the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 introduced by the Hon Bill Shorten and seconded by the Hon Tanya Plibersek on Monday, 12 September 2016 may be found at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5708. Mr Shorten’s Second Reading Speech may be viewed at: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansardr/d961ab05-d592-46b4-8a71-e41c76b2d8ae/0015/hansard_frag.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf
The Turnbull Government introduced the Plebiscite (Same Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 14 September 2016.
Labor did not support the Plebiscite (Same-sex Marriage) Bill 2016 when it came before the House of Representatives on 11 October and will continue to advocate for a free vote. A copy of the Second Reading Speech delivered by Opposition Leader, the Hon Bill Shorten, can be accessed at: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=CHAMBER;id=chamber%2Fhansardr%2F5231190c-6a41-40bb-a062-0d655dea71f6%2F0154;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F5231190c-6a41-40bb-a062-0d655dea71f6%2F0156%22