I spoke in parliament today on the High Court's decision on same-sex marriage.
Today the High Court unanimously decided that the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 of the ACT could not operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act. This judgment was the result of a decision by the Abbott government to challenge the ACT law in the courts. It is a decision which I believe was fundamentally misguided. Same-sex marriage is a political issue that should be decided in this chamber. As the Prime Minister's sister, Christine Foster, has tweeted: 'Sad news that the ACT same-sex marriage law has been overturned. Focus now firmly on federal parliament.'
Many members of this place support same-sex marriage, but the challenge is that the Liberal Party does not give its members a conscience vote. If Senator Brandis puts out press releases making statements such as, 'Freedoms are some of the most fundamental of all human rights', then the least he could do would be to allow his party room the freedom to vote for same-sex marriage.
As Warren and Grant of Aranda, who have been together for 27 years, told me: 'Our marriage would not undermine heterosexual marriage—quite the opposite—our desire to be married reflects our deep respect for the institution of marriage.'
Future generations of Australians will look back and wonder why it took Australian parliaments so long to bring about the reform of marriage laws.
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