Marriage Equality - The time to do this is now

The National Rainbow Labor Network is excited to welcome Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek’s Private Member’s Bill for Marriage Equality to be introduced into the House of Representatives next week.

We are proud that Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek are doing this together, it builds on Labor’s legacy of ending discrimination against lesbian, gay and transgender Australians in other areas of law.

After the overwhelming victory in Ireland in favour of Marriage equality Australia is now the only English speaking developed nation that has failed to implement marriage equality and Australians are tired of waiting for Australia’s parliament to act.

Irish born Western Australian Labor MP, Stephen Dawson MLC, who married his partner Dennis Liddelow under the short lived ACT reforms in 2013 and also had a civil ceremony in Ireland under it’s previous laws said, “I have chosen Australia as my home and I am frustrated that in a place that is as inclusive and diverse as Australia that I, my husband and family are still being treated as second class citizens. So I am really happy to see Bill Shorten taking the lead on this issue. I am hopeful we can finally make marriage equality a reality here.”

Co-convenor of the National Rainbow Labor Network, former Senator Louise Pratt, said “There is no doubt this is a popular reform and that Parliamentarians should be lending their support to end marriage discrimination. It is well and truly time to for MPs to come on board with recent polls showing about 72 per cent of Australians support marriage equality.

“The overwhelming majority of Labor MPs already support this reform, now Rainbow Labor will be working hard to build even more support in the Labor ranks. However, what we also know is that we can’t make marriage equality a reality without the Coalition, who have the majority of MPs in our parliament, giving the many among its ranks in favour of equality an opportunity to vote for it.”

Louise Pratt said, “The Coalition said at the last election that their party room would make a decision about whether to allow a conscience vote or not. However, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott has tried to deflect away from the fact that the Coalition will finally have to make a decision on this issue.

“It’s completely disingenuous to for the Prime Minister to have said he would prefer to be talking about the budget and jobs. This is a very simple piece of legislation and it will cost the budget nothing to end this discrimination. In fact marriage equality marriage will be a boost for jobs and the economy as same sex couples will no longer have to take their money and their friends and family overseas to get married.

“This reform is long overdue and means a lot to a great many people. Let’s just get this done. Australian’s are tired of waiting.”

 

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Valedictory

Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (17:02): I commence by acknowledging the traditional owners, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, and paying my respects to elders past and present. It has been, for me, a great privilege and a considerable pleasure to serve the state of Western Australia in this place since 2008. There is no greater honour, in my view—no greater responsibility in our democracy—than for us to be entrusted by our fellow citizens with the duty to represent them, the opportunity to contribute to the legislation that protects their needs, serves their interests and shapes our great nation.

I thank my fellow Western Australians for their trust and the opportunity given to me to serve them in both the state Legislative Council and the Senate. Today I pay tribute to the great many community, social justice, disability, local government, LGBTI, women's, environment and Indigenous organisations and advocates I have had the great pleasure of working with and supporting over the last six years. It has also been a great honour to work with Indigenous custodians who have welcomed me to their country around my state and around the nation. I have seen too much poverty, too much hardship in WA's Indigenous communities but also extraordinary resilience and leadership and great vision. I particularly want to thank all those Indigenous leaders and elders who have taught me so much about the Indigenous cultural economies that they have been working so hard to build and develop. In particular, I wish the ranger programs around our country well.

I want to thank the Australian Labor Party for the honour of representing our party and advancing our values. All of us in this place know that we owe our capacity to make a contribution to a great many other people. So, first and foremost, I want to thank the members of the WA Labor Party and our affiliated unions for our shared values, our commitment and the many tireless hours spent together over many election campaigns. I thank EMILY's List, I thank Young Labor Women's Network, and I thank Rainbow Labor for their support. I thank the ALP branches around my state of WA and their members. I know how hard all the members of the party work to contribute and uphold our mutual values.

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