Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes to freedom, yes to equality and yes to love. It is time for us to say yes to marriage equality. More than six years ago, in one of my first acts as a parliamentarian, I successfully moved a motion calling on all members of this place to consult their constituents about marriage equality and report back to the House. Six years ago, members of this place did what the government is urging us to do now, which is to go and talk to constituents about how they feel about marriage equality. Many surveyed their constituents with mail-outs and online surveys, others had direct conversations with people in their electorates and many MPs gave speeches to Parliament reporting on what they’d learnt. Not long after that, I introduced the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill in 2012. At the time I said:
Love knows no boundaries. It knows no limits. And love knows when it has found its partner. There have been many attempts throughout history to limit love, and all have failed. As we move further into the 21st century, I am confident that attempts to limit love will fail yet again and that full marriage equality will become a reality.
Those words were true then, and they are true now. The inquiry into that bill had more responses than any other inquiry in the history of this Parliament, and overwhelmingly they supported marriage equality.
We are now on the cusp of making marriage equality a reality. We know that a majority of Australians support marriage equality, as survey after survey and opinion poll after opinion poll has shown, and we now know there’s a majority of parliamentarians in both chambers of parliament ready to vote yes. We now know that over 22 other countries already have marriage equality, including the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany and the US. We now know that the only thing stopping a free vote of this parliament and making marriage equality a reality is a Prime Minister who is clinging to what may well be a fictional majority and as a result is beholden to the bigots and the homophobes on the backbench and their cheerleader-in-chief, the member for Warringah.
Now it seems we’ve come full circle with a non-binding survey, conducted by the ABS, being used as simply a delaying tactic by the hard Right in this parliament. I hope that the High Court strikes down this survey because this survey will be an opportunity for hate speech to thrive in this country and for people to be made to feel less than equal. But, if it doesn’t, then all of us of goodwill must rise to take this chance to strike a blow for equality because there have been many times in history when a wrong turn by those with power has led to freedom, and this is one such opportunity.
We must put our heart and soul into the campaign over the coming weeks to ensure that on 15 November there’s a resounding yes. We must hit the streets and the phones. We must paint the cities and towns in rainbows and the word ‘yes’, and we must get out the vote in whatever way we can. That’s what I will be doing, and I know that millions of Australians will join me. On the weekend my wife and I, and our kids, decorated the picket fence of our front yard with a simple sign that said, ‘Yes’. It said, ‘Vote yes,’ with the fine print saying, ‘to the stupid plebiscite.’ It’s always important to read the fine print! I think that summarises the way many people feel at the moment. We don’t need this plebiscite, but, if we’re going to have it, let’s make sure it’s a yes vote. I did that, and my wife and our kids did that, because we want our children to grow up in a world where everyone can marry the person they love regardless of who they are or where they come from.
Marriage equality is about people, not politics. It’s about the grandma who wants to see her grandson married, the father who wants to walk his daughter down the aisle and every couple who wants to celebrate their lifelong commitment to each other. It’s about the commitment shared between two people who love each other and want to build a secure future together. It’s about everyone being able to marry the person they love. It’s about the boy in the country town who’s working out who he’s attracted to, or the girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the school formal—because they will hear the message from this parliament that all love is equal. So, I say again: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes to freedom. Yes to equality. Yes to love. It is time for us to say yes to marriage equality.
Chamber House of Representatives on 15/08/2017 Item ADJOURNMENT – Marriage Speaker: Bandt, Adam, MP Transcript used for news reporting