By EMMA GRIFFITHS.Labor leader Bill Shorten has introduced a marriage equality bill to Federal Parliament, urging MPs to “step up”.
The Opposition Leader’s private members bill proposes replacing the words “man and woman” with the term “two people” to define who can be legally married.
But the Coalition does not support the legislation and the House of Representatives voted to adjourn debate indefinitely.
Mr Shorten has called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to grant his MPs a free vote on the issue.
“We cannot assume this change is inevitable,” he said.
“We cannot imagine it will just happen — we the 44th Parliament have to step up — to rise to the moment.”
Mr Shorten said Ireland’s ‘yes’ vote in a referendum on same-sex marriage just over a week ago had stirred him to action.
“When someone has found not just another person they can live with, but a person they can’t live without, then they should have the same right to the true qualities of a bond that runs deeper than any law,” he said.
“And we say to all young gay people: we are proud of you for who you are, you belong.”
Mr Shorten rejected criticism from Greens leader Richard Di Natale that it was a mistake to “go it alone” and that Labor should wait until there was support from all major parties for a piece of legislation.
“If Richard Di Natale’s waiting for Tony Abbott to support marriage equality, then it will never happen,” Mr Shorten said in an earlier press conference.