The Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2013, put forward with the goal “to allow for adults of the same sex to enter into a same-sex marriage” has today been voted down in the upper house of the NSW Parliament.
It was hoped that the legislation would be passed today but ultimately there were 21 votes against and only 19 for; an undeniably close vote. During the debate prior to the vote, NSW Labor MP Helen Westwood read a letter she received from a barrister who is also ‘a partner at a well-established legal chambers in Sydney’:
What the hell is wrong with you people? No straight-thinking Australian wants to hear about queers getting married. Marriage is not a game between poofters and lesbian sluts …wake up woman to the call of the majority who would rather see all queers burnt at the stake not married.”
Reverend Fred Nile, of the Christian Democratic Party, who publicly campaigned against the bill, has said that the defeat is “a great victory for marriage in the NSW upper house.”
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, who has previously spoken of his support for same-sex marriage, said he would not back NSW legislation as he feels that “only change enacted by the Federal Parliament can deliver true equality in our marriage laws”.
The bill was introduced on behalf of the NSW Cross Party Group for Marriage Equality, who’s members include the Hon Trevor Khan from the National Party, Member for Coogee Bruce Notley – Smith from the Liberal Party, former Member for Sydney Clover Moore, Alex Greenwich for the Independents, Cate Faerhmann and Mehreen Faruqi for the Greens.
Once the results of the vote were in Mr. Notley-Smith, revealed that ”Many members gave their reason for not voting in the upper house as [their belief] that marriage is a federal matter,” he said.
In response to the argument that it is indeed a ‘federal matter’ Trevor Khan called it ”a cop out”. In a statement he said, “I find it difficult to accept that people are being asked to wait at the back of the bus for a little longer because somebody’s saying there’s going to be a Mercedes bus coming down the road in another five or 10 years’ time.”
Once the voting was done Mr. Greenwich told the assembled press that “We are on the tipping point of reform.” He went on to say that “Regardless of the result, we know that the gay and lesbian community has a level of respect from our parliament that has not always been there … this has shown us that marriage equality is doable in NSW.”
Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said that the result “shows MPs’ views are aligning much more closely with the community’s views and it’s only a matter of time until we get marriage equality.”
After the amendment in 2004, otherwise known as the “Marriage Discrimination Act” or the “Straight Australia Policy”, the definition of the word marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 was changed to “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” As a result, any bills (including the ACT’s current Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill) proposing same-sex marriage will need to also amend the said bogus ‘definition’ to bring Australia into the 21st century.