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Madam speaker I rise to speak in support of this motion.
This week, I am especially proud to celebrate and recognise Canberra as Australia’s most LGBTIQ inclusive city and join with many of my colleagues in supporting the campaign for Marriage Equality.
I am also proud to be a Member of the ACT Labor Government which continues to support the LGBTIQ community through the creation of the Office of LGBTIQ affairs, the implementation of laws which remove discrimination and recognise the love shared by all Canberrans, the commitment to continue funding for the Safe Schools program to ensure Canberra students feel safe and valued regardless of their gender or sexuality, and our ongoing support of LGBTIQ organisations and events.
It is clear that the ACT Government is leading the way in supporting the LGBTIQ community.
We are very lucky to live in a city full of a vast array of cultures, beliefs and identities however it is important to recognise that this is not just due to luck. It is because of the way that progressive Canberrans have rallied together over many years in the fight to create a fairer and accepting city that we can all be proud of.
Government has a big role to play in protecting all members of the community and the Labor Government has continued to push the need for the equal treatment of all Canberrans whether it is in health, education, economic or social policy.
A particular example is when the ACT made history in 2013 by passing Marriage Equality through this place. Despite the decision being overruled after a high court challenge from the Federal Government, the ACT Labor Government has continued to stand up to those conservative voices and defend the rights of same-sex couples and LGBTIQ people more broadly.
With the passing of the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill (no 3) yesterday, we have taken a further step towards creating a truly equal Canberra.
The amendments made to the Civil Unions Act 2012 allow for the automatic recognition of same-sex relationships that are formally recognised in other jurisdictions as civil unions.
Although many of us would prefer to see the law reflect the opinion of the 77% of Australians who support Marriage Equality, the ACT obviously does not have the power to make the necessary legal changes.
For this reason, we as elected representatives of the ACT must call on the Turnbull Government to allow a free vote on the floor of the Federal Parliament and amend the Commonwealth Marriage Act.
A plebiscite is not the way for us to achieve equality. We know that LGBTIQ people were deeply concerned by the idea that their sexual identity would be the spark for a national debate fuelled by ignorance and hate speech. A free vote will cost nothing to the taxpayer, it will see Marriage Equality easily passed through both houses of Parliament and it will create a fairer and more inclusive Australia.
It is time for us, Madam Speaker, to continue the fight for all LGBTIQ Australians and to strive towards a society where everyone is accepted and valued for who they are.
We know that an overwhelming majority of the population supports Marriage Equality and we have seen the positive impact here in the ACT and around the world that equal recognition of same-sex couples has on building a supportive and inclusive society.
LGBTIQ identifying people deserve the basic right to be able to marry the person who they love. By withholding that right, the Federal Government is delivering a message of unacceptance and further marginalising people in our community.
Madam Speaker, we must recognise that love is love. I, like many of us in this place, have friends and family who wish they could marry the love of their life but they simply cannot.
There is no logical reason as to why as a woman, I can marry a man and be easily accepted in society but a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman cannot.
It is time for us to remove this unjust discrimination from the Commonwealth Marriage Act and it must be done now.
I am proud to stand with all of my Labor colleagues in supporting the fight for Marriage Equality. I know that if we continue to stand up to the conservative minority, we will prevail. I hope that we can all join together in this place today to help deliver Marriage Equality for all Canberrans and Australians.