Today the House of Representatives voted on Stephen Jones’ private member’s bill on marriage equality. 42 Members of the House of Representatives voted to support marriage equality for all Australians and I was proud to be one of them.
Tony Abbott refused to allow members of the Liberal and National parties to vote with their conscience, and unfortunately the bill did not gain enough numbers to pass through the House.
We must see today’s historic vote on marriage equality as a step forward and not a set-back.
In 1981, the first private member’s bill to decriminalise homosexuality in New South Wales was defeated by 67 votes to 28. Less than three years later the Wran Labor Government successfully passed the Crimes (Amendment) Act 1984 (NSW).
In 2009, the New York Senate defeated marriage equality legislation only to pass the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011.
Social justice reforms which challenge discrimination have in the past failed at their first attempt. History’s other lesson is that nothing is more relentless than a movement for change motivated by the principle of equality.
As Minister Penny Wong said yesterday:
‘I think the aspiration for equality is a very powerful one and for many people this is about the people they care about most in the world. So, we’re not going to walk away from it.’
I won’t walk away from it either.
I look forward to the day when marriage equality passes into law in Australia.
The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP
Federal Member for Sydney