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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 9327


Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (12:12): The issue of same-sex marriage is important and I have taken the opportunity provided by the motion to actively engage with my community on it. The views of my community are very important to me. I have an open-door policy so that people in my electorate can discuss their views with me in any way they choose. I have run an online survey and publicly encouraged people to communicate with me on this issue. Like the survey of the member for Wentworth, the survey that I conducted was not simply a yes-no survey but one that encouraged people to place comments and a variety of views. People can view that on my website. I had 505 responses to the survey. They came out very strongly in favour of supporting same sex-marriage. It was 86 per cent to 13 per cent, and in Shortland electorate that figure came down to 78.4 per cent to 21.6 per cent.

I appreciate that this is only 505 people, but I have engaged with my community in a number of other ways, and that survey will remain there for people to continue to complete. Some people as young as 14 years and others over 60 years of age have completed the survey. The most disheartening thing were a few comments which said that it would not matter what they said or that their views would not be read. In particular, I would like to quote a 14-year-old boy who submitted a very well-researched comment:

I'm fourteen. I should be studying. I know this isn't going to be read and this is an absolute waste of my time, but I'll write it anyway.

I am here to assure you that I take all issues in our community seriously and your views have been heard, along with everyone else's views. That is what this exercise is about: ensuring people's views are heard.

I have received hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls from my constituents expressing their views and I have also used social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to further encourage community conversation on this issue. I have conducted mobile offices, met with people in their community and had personal meetings with people who made appointments to come and see me to talk about their views.

A wide range of views have been expressed to me and many issues have been raised, such as discrimination, equality, human rights, preservation of tradition, the needs of children and the religious underpinning of marriage. These are some of the comments made by people supporting same-sex marriage:

The definition in the Marriage Act is discriminatory and needs to be changed to reflect the diversity, tolerance, understanding and equality that Australia is striving towards in the 21st century.

Restricting the definition of marriage to one man and one woman elevates heterosexual relationships to a privileged status, thus stigmatising and marginalising gay people.

Marriage is about love, not gender.

The current definition speaks nothing of commitment, love and dedication.

One's marriage does not define another's.

Marriage is whatever society says it is. Our society is ready to widen that definition to include any loving couple.

The definition also includes 'entered into for life'—obviously we've done away with this bit!

And on the other side:

Homosexuality is a curable disease which must be discontinued.

I am all for same-sex relationships that have all the benefits of a heterosexual marriage, but we can't call it a marriage.

If homosexual marriage becomes accepted in law, what is the next perverted barrier …

Marriage was originally something to celebrate a commitment before God. I feel same-sex unions should have something different to celebrate their commitment.

Surely a marriage is for the purpose of procreation.

Civil same-sex marriage is an issue where people on both sides have very strong views, and I acknowledge that. But I am also aware that there is a silent majority in the electorate whose views are difficult to pinpoint at this particular stage. I will continue to gauge the views of my electorate in the lead-up to the ALP national conference at the end of this year. In participating in any debate on this issue, I will be mindful of the views of people in my electorate. Their voices are important in any discussion about this issue, and all voices should be respected. I will continue to engage, as I have said, so that I fully understand the many viewpoints. I seek leave to table a copy of the survey that I have conducted.

Leave granted.

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