Twelve years after Labor declined to block John Howard's changes to the Marriage Act banning same-sex marriage, there are few remaining in the federal party who oppose marriage equality, after the shock departure of Joe Bullock.

The year 2004 is a year many in Labor would like to forget. Mark Latham was their leader, and the party supported then-prime minister John Howard's push to add a clause to the Marriage Act to ban same-sex marriage. Although the Labor Party officially opposed same-sex marriage, Howard was attempting to wedge the party on the issue, and hastily attempted to pass legislation. The first bill was referred to committee in the Senate, but Labor opposed it in parts. Then-attorney-general Philip Ruddock then introduced a second piece of legislation removing Labor's sticking points to try to get it passed quickly. Labor was all for it. Latham at the time: