The ACT Labor Party conference today debated a motion (moved by Natasha Shahidullah and Andrew Barr) that advocated a change to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage. I spoke in favour of the change.
ALP ACT Conference, 30 July 2011
Few moments in life are so powerful, so emotionally charged, that they transcend the individual and connect us all.
- The birth of a child;
- Saying and being told I love you;
- And for those of us who are married – our wedding day.
A day so special that we name anniversaries silver, gold and diamond.
Marriage should be recognised and registered by law, regardless of the sexual orientation, or gender of the couple wanting to be married.
Same sex marriage is not about gay versus straight, conservative versus progressive, left versus right.
It is about social justice, equality for individuals, the recognition and protection of fundamental political and civil rights.
It is a Labor issue.
Our values make our party great. These have guided us for 120 years and should guide us on this issue.
We are a party of leadership. It is we who place a premium on treating people with dignity, decency, without discrimination.
In our heartland, our members, our voters watch Ellen DeGeneres and Erik van der Woodsen, Matt Lucas and John Barrowman, Jodie Foster and Stephen Fry; we listen to Elton John and KD Lang. Equality for same-sex couples is not unfamiliar to everyday Australians.
I understand and respect those who argue that marriage should remain a union between a man and a women. I have met with them in my electorate office and at my mobile offices. I have heard their views and their stories. They say that marriage is about the protection of the reproductive relationship and, as much as possible, giving children the opportunity to be reared by their biological parents within their natural family.
As a father of two, I absolutely understand the devotion to providing a caring, nurturing, loving and safe environment for children. But what I cannot understand is how my sexuality in some way gives me the right to marry because I am a better father than same sex parents.
The ACT has already led the way in recognising same-sex relationships.
Motions for marriage equality have already been passed at the Tasmanian, Victoria, Northern Territory, South Australian, Queensland and Western Australian conferences.
I am hoping we can add the ACT to that list.
A young woman named Natasha recently wrote to me:
‘I have wonderful dreams for my friends. I hope they will experience a loving life. But most of all I want them to have the freedom to pursue their own happiness. Marriage equality is a part of this’.
I have been told countless stories of the impact that discrimination has had on same-sex couples. These stories shock and appal me.
Same-sex couples ask for our support in having their love treated equally. I joined the Labor Party because I believe in equality. I am proud to support this motion.
I’m particularly grateful to Damien Hickman for his work on the speech.