Senator welcomes vote as another step toward marriage equality

Senator for Western Australia, Louise Pratt, has declared a win in the fight for marriage equality, with a record number of Senators voting today for equality.

“My Labor colleagues in support of this reform have approached this debate with compassion and understanding in their hearts, and I thank them for that,” said Senator Pratt.

“Importantly, many of them have courageously changed their mind on this issue after hearing personal stories from their gay and lesbian constituents, their families and their friends.

“That is because the arguments for marriage equality are based on the unstoppable values of fairness and love.”

“Those opposed to this reform have argued that we must not replace existing customs of marriage, but marriage in Australia has changed over the decades and the simple fact is thousands of lesbian and gay couples in Australia are already married.

“Same sex marriages are now part of Australia’s marriage customs. These marriages deserve legal recognition.”

“The Bill would have passed if just 8 Senators had changed their vote, after a clear majority of Labor Senators voted in favour. Several in favour Labor Senators were unable to make the vote.

“Two-thirds of Labor Senators support marriage equality, which reflects public support almost exactly,” said Senator Pratt.

“I know that some will see this as a defeat, but it is not.

“We have never come so close to winning a vote on marriage equality. It shows how far we have come, and that we do not have far to go.

“We lost today because Tony Abbott refused to allow his members a conscience vote.

“I know that there are a number of Coalition Senators who would have supported equality if they had been allowed to.”

“75% of Australians think that marriage equality is inevitable, and they are not wrong.

“Those who stand in the way of progress must know that flawed research and old-fashioned attitudes cannot hold back the tide.

“Labor will keep talking with all Australians until marriage equality is a reality.

“And I will personally continue fighting.”

Media contacts:         Senator Pratt’s Office 08 9225 4411

Highlights from the Senate Debate

Senator the Hon John Faulkner (Labor Party, New South Wales): “A nation’s laws reflect its values. I believe that our national recognises the full and equal citizenship of all Australians, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference. I believe that our nation stands against discrimination against any person. And I believe it is time – it is past time – for our marriage law to reflect those values.”

Senator the Hon Jan McLucas (Labor Party, Queensland): “I am confident, and I say to those who have argued and pushed for so many years that this a step forward. This is a way forward, and they should take confidence from the progress that we have made both in the chambers and in the community.”

Senator the Hon Penny Wong (Labor Party, South Australia): “I do not regret that our daughter has Sophie and I as her parents. I do regret that she lives in a world where some will tell her that her family is not normal. I regret that, even in this chamber, elected representatives denigrate the worth of her family. These are not challenges she deserves. None of our children deserve such challenges. So I will not rest in the face of such prejudice. I want for her, for all of us, an Australia which is inclusive and respectful. This is why this campaign will not end here: because we who argue for equality are not only standing for principle, we are also standing for the people we love – and there is nothing more powerful than this.”

Senator Louise Pratt (Labor Party, Western Australia): “I ask the Senators in this chamber to remember, when they are deciding how to vote: We already exist. Our relationships exist. Our children exist. Our families exist. Our marriages exist. Our love exists. All we ask, all we ask, is that you stop pretending that our relationships are not as real as yours, our love as true, our children as cherished, and our families as precious.”

Lowlights from the Senate Debate

Senator Chris Back (Liberal Party, Western Australia): “Let us imagine if for one minute in this place today we could with a wand wipe away all disadvantage and discrimination against the Aboriginal people. Would it then be the case that Caucasian Australians, Asian Australians and African Australians could call ourselves Aboriginal or Torres Strait? The answer logically is no, we could not. We know that there are genetic and other factors to be taken into account in describing Aboriginality.”

Senator Barnaby Joyce (Nationals, Queensland): “If you want to be in a relationship with someone of the same sex, that is fine, but it is just not marriage. It is something that you may determine and it may have worth, it may have depth, but it is not marriage. I think that if everybody thinks about it logically, it is yet another sacrifice you make which you can put aside and say, ‘If you’re not prepared to make that sacrifice, then that in itself is a statement that the sacrifice that you would have to make of marriage is probably something that you are not prepared to accept.”

Senator Cory Bernardi (Liberal Party, South Australia): “There are even some creepy people out there – and I say ‘creepy’ deliberately – who are unfortunately afforded a great deal more respect than I believe they deserve. These creepy people say it is okay to have consensual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step? In the future will we say, ‘These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union.’?”