Julia Gillard has FINALLY come out in support of marriage equality.

Julia Gillard has come out in favour of marriage equality.

In a move that is equally surprising and welcome, Julia Gillard has delivered a speech, explaining why the Australian Government should support marriage equality.

Gillard and Kirby (Image: Twitter).

Through her term as Prime Minister and in the time since, Gillard has spoken against same-sex marriage. Today, while giving the Michael Kirby Lecture at Melbourne’s College of Law and Justice, Gillard said the following:

“To be frank, the nature of Australia’s contemporary debate on same sex marriage has caused me to re-examine some fundamental assumptions I have held about this debate. As many of you in this room are aware, I voted against same sex marriage when changes came before the Federal Parliament. I ensured my political party had a conscience vote and I did not seek to influence the vote of anyone within my political party on the legislation itself.

I am aware that this vote by me was viewed as odd by many given what they know of my broader values. I am keenly aware my position was idiosyncratic. One of my staff members summarised it as that of a 1970s feminist. Given the 1970s feminist in me saw much to be concerned with traditional marriage from a gender perspective, I thought the better approach was not to change the old but to create something new through civil unions.

“However, in the years since, the debate has quickly moved on, and the claim for civil unions has been discarded in favour of a campaign for same sex marriage. In my time post politics as key countries have moved to embrace same sex marriage, I have identified that my preferred reform direction was most assuredly not winning hearts and minds.

“In fact, I assumed what would likely happen next was that the Liberal Party would move to a conscience vote on same sex marriage and, inevitably at some point, the parliament would vote to amend the Marriage Act to allow for same sex marriages. Being outside the Parliament, I would not have a vote in this process. After the vote was successfully taken my position would have been overtaken by history, something which would have caused me no heart burn.

“Now, given the discussion of a plebiscite or a referendum, I find myself in a world where these assumptions have been upended. As you know from my earlier remarks, I think it is vital that the proposal for a plebiscite or referendum is put to one side. 

“I also think it is important that the matter is now resolved through a conscience vote by the parliament as promptly as possible after the next election so that no more potential twists and turns can loom up. Of course, like everyone else in this room except [MP] Michael Danby, I would not have a vote in that debate. But if I did, I would vote yes.”

While we wish it was an opinion expressed in her time leading the country, it’s better late than ever.

And Tony? Your turn now.

Click through for a gallery of Melbourne’s recent marriage equality rally…

For more on marriage equality:

‘I support marriage equality and I vote.’

There are 10 people blocking marriage equality in Australia.

One paragraph that explains marriage equality perfectly.