Same-sex attracted Australians have endured decades of being told they are less-than, that their relationships aren’t worthy, aren’t legitimate, that their love is somehow threatening. But today, December 7, 2017, our parliament told them otherwise.
On Thursday afternoon, the House of Representatives voted in favour of an historic bill to legalise marriage equality.
The Bill will now be delivered to the Governor General, who is expected to sign it into law in the coming days.
The decision followed three days of debate in the lower house, during which more than 120 members spoke on the issue: from Labor MP Linda Burney, who returned to parliament in honour of her gay son, Binni, who passed away eight weeks ago; to Queensland independent, Bob Katter, who rambled about “boys in dresses”, AIDS, and Gianni Versace; and most memorably, Liberal MP Tim Wilson who proposed to his partner, Ryan Bolger, from the floor of the House.
The Bill, introduced by Senator Dean Smith, was ultimately passed with an overwhelming majority following its comfortable passage through the Senate on November 29.
“What a day, what a day for love, for equality for respect,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the House. “It is time for more marriages, more equality, more love.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described the decision as “long overdue”.
“It is now a time to heal, a time to build, a time to laugh, a time to embrace, a time to love, and now, at last, a time for marriage equality.”
While progress on Thursday was relatively swift, there were several last-ditch attempts to stall the legislation.
Chief among them, controversial amendments moved by Former Prime Minister turned backbench MP Tony Abbott in an effort to protect “religious freedoms”. The move, and others introduced by The Greens, Michael Sukkar and Andrew Hastie of the Liberals and National MP Andrew Broad, were voted down.
The Bill is now expected to be ratified by Governor General Peter Cosgrove by the end of the week, which will fulfil Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s promise to fully legalise marriage equality before Christmas.
The Prime Minister made the pledge on November 15, after the majority (61.6 per cent) of Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry via a heavily maligned $100 million postal survey.
Nothing will erase the hurt, the nastiness, that LGBTQI people were subjected to during that process, while millions of strangers weighed in on their private relationships, and while a room full of politicians decided whether or not to listen.
But boy oh boy, this certainly helps.