| December 06, 2017

Marriage Amendment Bill

Firstly, I would like to thank Australians for having such a well-run, calm, respectful survey into this issue of changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry. In the election of 2016 I was asked repeatedly how I would vote on the issue of same-sex marriage, and I said then that, whilst I would personally vote in favour of same-sex marriage, I would ultimately respect the views of the nation. In the seat of Murray, during the same-sex marriage survey, the seat of Murray had 57.6 per cent vote yes and 42.4 per cent vote no. Of all people registered in the electorate, just under 80 per cent took the opportunity to partake in the survey. The electorate of Murray voted about five per cent less for the 'yes' vote than the Australian nation did as a whole.

I disagree with the previous member; I think the process was by every measure a stunning success. We had over 80 per cent of Australians actually have their say on this important issue. Most people were thinking we'd be doing well if 60 per cent of Australians were to go to the trouble of casting their vote, but we had over 80 per cent of Australians take part in this process. They have given us—they have given all Australians—an undoubted mandate to get on now with changing the Marriage Act. What this has meant is that the nearly five million people who voted no now realise they are in a minority. Whilst they might not agree with changing the Marriage Act, they now understand that the parliamentarians have been given a mandate by the majority of Australians. They will be considerably more accepting of these changes than if 150 politicians had simply gone off to Canberra and changed the Marriage Act on their own.

Whilst I am really happy for same-sex couples to now be able to marry—I'm genuinely happy—I am also hopeful that this parliament will be able to ensure that we protect the religious freedoms of religious ministers and celebrants so that they are not forced to take part in a ceremony contrary to their religious beliefs. Certainly, nobody should ever lose their job for simply stating their opinions, even if those opinions are politically incorrect. I will be making a short contribution to the second reading debate tonight, but I am really hoping that this parliament can find a balance that will show the nearly five million people who voted no that their opinions and their views are truly respected. At the same time, we need to ensure that the nearly eight million people who voted yes have their will granted to them. Australians clearly voted yes, and we need to honour that vote.

I see both sides of this debate, but I also believe very clearly that humans are either born gay or they are born straight. I therefore don't want to be part of any discrimination where people are not allowed certain rights simply because of how they were born. Hopefully this parliament can find the balance that best reflects the views of the Australian nation—that is, to change the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry and, at the same time, put in place protections for those in the community that have very strong religious views so that we do not replace one type of discrimination with another.

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