Canberrans’ Strong Support for Marriage Equality - Speech, Federation Chamber



Two and half weeks ago I joined Canberrans in a park near my office as we waited for the results of the vote on marriage equality.

The results were overwhelming.

Compared with the 62 per cent vote nationally, 74 per cent of Canberrans supported same-sex marriage, making the ACT not just the OECD's most livable region, not just a Lonely Planet a must-visit destination, but also the state or territory in Australia with the highest support for same-sex marriage.

But these figures don't tell the full story. 

The percentages can't express the relief felt by same-sex couples, who, in most cases, opposed the survey process but did feel that the results acknowledged the importance of their relationships. These percentages can't represent the emotions of LGBTI government staffers, who'd been unable to express their opinions through the survey process. These percentages can't express the happiness of couples whose overseas marriages may now be recognised in their home country.

Earlier this year I received a letter from Greg, a fellow Canberran, who told me about how he and his partner, after 22 years together, could no longer wait for Australia to make marriage equality legal. So they travelled to Canada, as others have done—or to New Zealand, Ireland or Britain—and tied the knot in that country. I agree with Greg when he says it's time for change.

This is a critical issue for Canberrans. Many Canberrans were deeply disappointed when the private member's bill from the member for Whitlam, Stephen Jones, failed to muster support in the House of Representatives. Many were disappointed when, four years ago next week, the High Court struck down the ACT's marriage equality law, after 31 Canberra couples had tied the knot. Among those couples were Emily and Ellie, a beautiful couple whose photo sits on the fridge of my electorate office as a daily reminder of the importance of ensuring that love can be recognised in whatever form it arises.

Australians Marriage Equality sent me and, I suspect, a few other parliamentarians, a copy of Australian Love Stories, a book which reminds us of the diversity in the way in which love comes in Australia. In the introduction, it contains a snippet from the Auden poem O Tell Me The Truth About Love:

When it comes, will it come without warning

Just as I'm picking my nose?

Will it knock on my door in the morning,

Or tread in the bus on my toes?

Will it come like a change in the weather?

Will its greeting be courteous or rough?

Will it alter my life altogether?

O tell me the truth about love.

We should make sure marriage equality happens without delay, without amendment, this week.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.