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Australia Achieves Marriage Equality Without Conservative Amendments

December 7, 2017

 

 After a marathon week in the House Of Representatives, marriage equality has finally come to Australia.

 

It was a festive mood at Parliament House on Thursday, with marriage equality advocates and supporters gathered on the lawn outside and watching in the gallery, MPs Adam Bandt and Warren Entsch wearing rainbows ties and opposition leader Bill Shorten showing off a pair of rainbow socks.

 

In a stunning win for the LGBT community, and after four days of speeches and debate, the marriage equality bill was passed without the amendment added in the Senate last week, which was designed to appease conservatives in the Coalition. Only Coalition MPs Russell Broadbent, Keith Pitt, David Littleproud and independent MP Bob Katter vote no to marriage equality.

 

There was a standing ovation in the gallery when the final amendment was voted down. All of the other five conservative amendments that were moved in the House Of Representatives were also voted down on Thursday.

 

Labor angered Coalition conservatives by refusing to consider any of the amendments.

 

The proposed amendments included allowing parents to withdraw their children from school classes discussing same-sex marriage; the right for non-religious defence force marriage celebrants to conscientiously object to performing same-sex marriages; protections for religious charities who oppose marriage equality and an amendment moved by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. 

 

On Monday, Tony Abbott spoke of his intention to move an amendment to protect the rights of those holding traditional views of marriage to express their opinions.

 

"I would like this to be a unifying moment for our country,” he said. “And the best way to make this a unifying moment for our country would be to acknowledge the continuing concerns that many decent Australians have about freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and parental rights,” he said.

 

During the 125  speeches made over 21 hours this week, there were several moments that highlighted the profound personal struggle that the fight for equality has been for members of the LGBT community and our families.


On Monday, Liberal MP Tim Wilson proposed for a second time to his fiancé of nine years, school teacher Ryan Bolger.

 

"In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands," he said. "They are the answer to the question we cannot ask.”


"So there's only one thing left to do; Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?"


Ryan was seated in the gallery and broke into a huge smile before answering ‘yes'.


Wilson fought his emotions as he explained the reactions of friends and loved ones when he told them he was engaged nine years ago. "Many simply did not know how to react, many SMSs went unresponded, in conversation, some people politely changed the topic or fell silent entirely."


"For a while, Ryan kept pushing for an engagement party but the truth was I kept delaying it, perhaps wrongly, because the strong message I took from so many people's silence was no-one would come."


The Labor Party’s Linda Burney honoured her son, Binni Kirkbright-Burney 33, who struggled with mental health issues and addiction and was found dead in October. Binni identified as gay.


“I have seen first-hand the confusion, anxiety and pain that many of our young people experience struggling with their sexuality.”


“I support marriage equality as someone who has and has had loved ones who identify as LGBTI. I honour these people, in particular my late son, Binni.”

 

As Australia's first female aboriginal MP, Burney said she supports marriage equality "as someone who is a member of a community that has experienced great discrimination and injustice."

 

Next, the Governor-General needs to approve the legislation and then same-sex couples will be able to apply for their marriage licenses. Same-sex marriages which have been performed overseas or by the consul of another country in Australia will be immediately recognised.


In his speech on Monday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed the LGBT community on behalf of the nation, saying "We love you, we respect you, your relationship is recognised by the Commonwealth as legitimate and honourable as anybody else's."


Finally.

 

 

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