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Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Page: 7426


Senator McLUCAS (QueenslandParliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (18:47): The purpose of the Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012 is to amend the Marriage Act 1961 by replacing the current definition of marriage with these words: 'Marriage means the union of two people, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life'. Further, it makes it clear that a minister of religion or a marriage celebrant is not under any obligation to marry people who are of the same sex.

As we have heard, there have been strongly held views here in the Senate and also in the community about removing discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the Marriage Act. But it is true to say that, more and more, community opinion is moving our way. I will be supporting this bill, because marriage should be about love and family, about shared values and futures, about goals and about dreams. It should not be about gender, and our laws should reflect this. It is about human rights, it is about equality, inclusion and respect—values that we all should hold dear.

I do not want to make light of this, but in reality it is pretty straightforward to me. I am sad that this bill will not be carried in this chamber. It is unfortunate that those in the opposition very loudly proclaim, and have done for years, that they are not bound in their vote, unlike we in the Labor Party. They proudly talk of the number of times they cross the floor—except in this bill. The hypocrisy is evident to me and to many others. I am confident, though, that in the future we will again attain equality in marriage, and I believe that it will be at the next time we have this debate. I am confident, and I say to those who have argued and pushed for so many years that this is a step forward. This is a way forward, and they should take confidence from the progress that we have made both in the chambers and in the community.

Debate interrupted.