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Monday, 7 September 2015
Page: 9357

Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (13:21): I rise to speak in support of the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill, which allows any two people to marry and have their marriage recognised regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. At its heart this bill is all about removing discrimination and prejudice from what is fundamentally a personal decision that each and every one of us is entitled to make—it is our own freedom of choice as to who we choose to love for the rest of our lives. As I have said many times, the decision is not one any government is entitled to make and it is not a decision that should be permitted to set one section of our society against another.

To those who oppose this bill or in some way are threatened by this, I say marriage is not a statement of moral superiority. Marriage is a simple statement of love and commitment. When did we forget that? With that in mind, who are any of us to prevent the expression of that love based upon a person's sexuality. Because this bill is focused on removing discrimination, it also provides absolute protection of religious freedoms because you cannot replace one form of prejudice and discrimination with another. The bill does not compel ministers of religion or chaplains to undertake same sex marriages where to do so would contravene the tenets of their faith and it is consistent with antidiscrimination laws that have been in existence in this country for decades. It will not permit discrimination in the provision of goods and services to same sex couples seeking to get married. For all those people who cite the US examples of the so-called religious dilemma facing florists and cake providers for same sex couples wanting to get married, the refusal of those goods and services on the basis of a person's sexuality is already unlawful. This bill will not permit us to wind back the progress that, thankfully, we have made in becoming a much more tolerant and inclusive society.

My view is that on this issue party political positions should be abandoned in favour of what each person's conscience tells them. For me, as a Liberal member of parliament, that would be democracy in its purest form. As such, this bill's unique status as having cross party support is particularly significant. Each cosponsor of this bill has set aside their particular party political alliances and has acted in accordance with their conscience in keeping the majority view of their constituents. This is how democracy is supposed to work and regrettably it is too rare. To all of my fellow cosponsors, especially the member for Leichhardt, the Hon. Warren Entsch, who led us in bringing the bill to the House, I want to say thank you. Being able to work with you all in bringing this bill before the parliament has been a great honour and it is also my privilege to be speaking in this chamber today with the member for Griffith. I also want to thank my chief of staff, John Lamont, for his technical legal expertise in drafting the bill and the accompanying explanatory memorandum and statement of compatibility and all of the parliamentary staff who have worked with this bill. It has been a great privilege for my office to have drafted this bill.

As people we are all of us much more than our sexuality, in the same way that we are much more than our racial origins or any disability that we might have. Our worth, as people, is in no way diminished by any of these characteristics, none of which should be allowed to serve as a disqualifier to all of us enjoying rights so fundamental and basic as our choice on who we love.

It is in the nature of human experience that views change over time. Once upon a time, society did not permit people of different races to marry, women were treated as property and the earth was thought to be flat. Thankfully, we have evolved. Given that, for all of us, our time on earth is too short, why would any one of us seek to deny another the chance to experience love in their lifetime? It is a ridiculous proposition to contend that a gay person needs love to any lesser degree than I do. This is not a politician's response; I would like to think of it as a human response. And so many people have said before me that, if there was just a little bit more love in the world, it would be a better place for all this.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 13:26 to 16:00