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‘Our love exists’: Parliament’s gay marriage debate

Parliament is grappling with the issue of gay marriage. Crikey takes a look at what Senators from all sides have said.

Strong emotions and firm views have been expressed on all sides of federal Parliament as MPs grapple with bills to legalise gay marriage. Labor MPs have been given a conscience vote, while Coalition MPs have not, and it’s not expected the bills will pass. Crikey takes a look at some of the views expressed in the Senate in recent days …

FOR GAY MARRIAGE

Labor Senator John Faulkner:

This should not be a debate about the virtue and value of marriage as an institution, nor about its role in our society. Nor is it a debate about the role and prominence of religion — any religion — in our nation. It is a debate on the simple question of whether it is right for a government to deny some of its citizens access to a secular, government-recognised status on the basis of the gender of the person they choose to share their life with.”

Labor Senator Doug Cameron:

It is pretty hard when you are a member of a political party and you have got gay, lesbian, transs-xual and inters-x members of that party who belong to a party that says, ‘You are not equal; you will not get the right to marry’. I cannot look my comrades from Rainbow Labor in the eye and say, ‘You should be treated differently from other people in this country’. I just won’t do it. I don’t think it’s right.”

Labor Senator Louise Pratt:

I ask senators in this chamber to remember, when they are deciding how to vote, we exist, we already exist, our relationships exist, our children exist, our families exist, our marriages exist and our love exists. All we ask is that you stop pretending that we don’t. Stop pretending that our relationships are not as real as yours, our love not as true, our children not as cherished, our families not as precious — because they are.”

Greens Senator Richard Di Natale:

When we say that people of the same s-x cannot get married, what we are saying to them is that their relationship is second-rate, that the decisions that they have made are less worthy and that discrimination against gays and lesbians is OK. It sends a very clear message to young people who are struggling with their s-xuality and are confronting issues of identity — who they are — that their hopes for a long and fulfilling relationship with a partner who they love are in vain.”

Greens Senator Penny Wright:

Relationships are like everything in life. They are the basis of everything we do, everything we achieve and our deepest sense of self. They are our connection with other human beings and the framework for social cohesion and strong communities, and I believe that committed, loving, loyal relationships, whether s-xual or platonic, are the gold standard. Surely any society worth its salt would seek to uphold and embrace loving, committed relationships and do anything to encourage, support and celebrate them, and to support those of its citizens who wish to formalise them.”

AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE

Liberal Senator Cory Bernadi:

If we are prepared to redefine marriage so that it suits the latest criterion that two people who love each other should be able to get married irrespective of their gender and/or if they are in a s-xual relationship, then what is the next step? The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society — or any other type of relationship. For those who say that I am being alarmist in this, there is the polyamory community who were very disappointed when the Greens had to distance themselves from their support for numerous people getting together and saying they want to enter into a permanent union …

There are even some creepy people out there — and I say ‘creepy’ deliberately — who are unfortunately afforded a great deal more respect than I believe they deserve. These creepy people say it is OK to have consensual s-xual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step? In the future will we say, ‘These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union’.”

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce:

I understand the concerns that are held by other people who say, ‘I feel that if I do not have the capacity to call myself married I will feel diminished’. There is not much that we can do about that. The reality in life is that there are always things that you cannot have.

Marriage is an institution, a custom, that surrounds itself with trying to reinforce the reality of nature … Family is the most effective policy that any government can stand behind. The family is the greatest aged-care policy. The family is the greatest law and order policy. The family is the greatest housing policy. The family is the greatest education policy. The family is the greatest health policy. The ramifications of going into that institution of marriage, which is at the centre of what the family is, are way beyond merely a statement of what a person wants and desires.”

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz:

Firstly, marriage is not all about love. It is ultimately about the next generation and its socialisation, with the benefit of having, if at all possible, mother and father role models. The social data and studies in this area are simply overwhelming. Children do best with both a mum and dad. Sure, there are circumstances where they are not given that opportunity for a variety of reasons, but we as a society should not embark deliberately on creating situations where that might be the case.”

Labor Senator Helen Polley:

It is very easy to run an emotional argument … We all have family and friends who are gay and lesbian. That does not change my position, and it certainly has not changed the position of that overwhelming majority of Tasmanians who have contacted me and asked me not to support this bill.”

3
  • 1
    moonkid
    Posted Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    The word “family” does not in itself mean “one woman, one man and their children”, mister Joyce. That arrangement is a relatively recent invention, and is certainly a long way from universal in the present.

  • 2
    muruk
    Posted Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    There are way too many people on this planet, maybe we should ban marriage for reasons of procreation and allow it only for commitment to each other. Possibly we could allow it between man and his best friend the dog, just to give bernadi something to grizzle about and keep him happy.

  • 3
    Gratton Wilson
    Posted Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Those who deny marriage to gays and lesbians are not logical in their arguements. Iff marriage is all about children then people over the age of procreation should also be barred from marriage, as should those who choose not to have children, and those who cannot have children. Persons who have duel sexuality may legally marry each other, so it isn’t about gender nor is it about children. As I understand it, more than 50% of voting adults in Australia want same sex marriage to become law. Is it only those who follow the instructions that come from the Vatican who reject the wishes of the community. Does a foreign power control our Parliament

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