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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 9334

Mr MURPHY (Reid) (12:40): In addition to my report to the House on this matter last Thursday, I now further report on the feedback from my constituents and I thank them for so doing. I have received messages of support for my stand on this issue from a wide cross-section of the community, including the religious, non-religious, heterosexuals and homosexuals, the left and the right, men and women. Equally, I have received messages of opposition from others in the same categories. Importantly, the feedback extended well beyond the churches, coming also from the business community, ethnic associations, sporting groups, clubs and so on.

There is no unanimous view in any of these groups of people, even in the gay community, as I have discovered. A number of gay people who contacted me said they opposed all marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Within my electorate, most of my feedback supported the retention of the current definition of marriage. Importantly, most of the feedback supporting same-sex marriage came from outside the electorate.

I have been personally targeted by a campaign that has wrongly assumed that I would simply change my mind under pressure. Some of the emails and letters have been abusive and downright intolerant. One would expect that people asking for, and needing, community tolerance would exercise more tolerance themselves. They assume, wrongly, that anyone holding a position against redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is automatically a bigot. I am not a bigot.

In terms of the member for Melbourne's motion, I also report that despite this campaign against me most of my electorate does not see marriage for same-sex couples as a matter of equality, discrimination or human rights. All of my electorate agree that all individuals are equal. Most of my electorate does not accept that all relationships are equal. My support for same-sex civil unions has also drawn some criticism from sections of the Right in this debate, although they have acknowledged and appreciated my defence of the institution of marriage. I remind members that in 2009 I, too, supported and voted for 85 amendments to Commonwealth laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples in areas such as taxation, social security, aged care, superannuation, immigration and family law.

My meetings with lesbian couples and single male homosexuals in my office have often started with a little tension, but have always ended cordially with mutual respect, even when we agreed to differ. For example, here is a response from one of my constituents who is gay:

Mr Murphy, I thank you for taking time to meet me Friday last so to discuss the upcoming vote on gay marriage. I entered the meeting with a view that had been formed by reports from press and advocacy groups on the matter. I wanted to hear your views, in person, as I believe disagreements should be met face-to-face and not by means third hand, especially when such matters under discussion are close to one ' s heart.

Your support in the house for readjustment of federal laws aligning same-sex couples to different sex couples in terms of superannuation and laws is much appreciated. Your stance on rights of an individual to be homosexual when challenged by members of your electorate looking for your support on attitudes with an antig ay agenda illustrates that you are an MP that holds dear the rights of a human to be different and are willing to be counted when it comes to defending such rights.

The opinion you have encountered within your electorate in regard to same-sex marriage is understandable, although not welcome by myself, but your attitude in backing civil unions and recognising the same from those joined similarly overseas is very welcome and very much appreciated by me. I realise that we do not live in an ideal world and it is unlikely that the rights of a minority will be wholly recognised as a democracy . However, as you are a product of the democratic process, your efforts on homosexual rights are very much appreciated and I look forward to you carrying on the traditions of Labor representation for the foreseeable future. (Time ex pired)