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Marriage equality should be tested in parliament not the courts

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Friday, October 11th, 2013 @ 6:06PM

The Attorney-General George Brandis’s decision to challenge the ACT same-sex marriage laws in the High Court, instead of bringing the issue to the floor of the parliament, seems to be confusing even his own colleagues.

Only this morning on ABC Local Radio 666 Canberra, ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja while defending the Attorney-General’s intervention conceded that ‘whether your views are in favour of same-sex marriage or against same-sex marriage the correct place for this to be debated is in the Commonwealth Parliament’.

If the Parliament is the correct place for this debate why is the Coalition Government challenging the ACT legislature through the High Court? Why not instead bring this issue before the Federal Parliament and allow the Coalition’s membership a conscience vote?

It was after all a Coalition Government’s decision in 2004 to narrow the scope of the Marriage Act to heterosexual marriage which provided the ACT Legislative Assembly the opportunity to create a law that allows for same-sex marriages.

We are forced to assume that the Attorney-General’s intervention is in fact a political act designed to preserve the Coalition leadership’s now archaic view of marriage - and archaic is exactly what it is.

In the last twelve months two conservative governments in the United Kingdom and New Zealand have legalised same-sex marriage by allowing their members a conscience vote.

Both these parliaments, regardless of the ideological divisions within them, recognised the injustice of denying people equal expression of love based on their sexual orientation.

Yet in spite of this shift in conservative thinking abroad, Australia’s Coalition continues to bind its members to vote against marriage equality.

If Senator Seselja truly believes that same-sex marriage should be debated in the Parliament then I would urge him to lobby his Coalition’s leaders to drop their High Court challenge, bring marriage equality to the floor of the Parliament and allow their members to vote with their conscience.