ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the introduction of the bill marked “an important day in the history of the assembly and the history of the ACT”.
“For the first time in Australia same-sex couples will have the opportunity to have their relationships recognised and celebrated as a marriage…There is no longer any excuse, if there ever was, to discriminate against same-sex people in our community. They are our brothers, our sisters, our coworkers, our mentors, but most importantly they are our equals.
“The Australian people have moved much faster than our political institutions have been able to respond. Where institutional discrimination exists governments have a responsibility to remove it…we are prepared to challenged outdated legal notions and stand up for the people we represent.”
Gallagher also said that “couples from interstate will be more than welcome to come and be married under these laws”.
An emotional Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who at times spoke through tears, quoted Martin Luther King and called the fight for LGBTI rights a “21st-century civil rights movement”.
“The family is the basic unit of our society, but family can take many forms. What’s anti-family is the arrogant declaration that ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ are narrowly defined, and are on such shaky ground that changing them would make them fall apart.
“Today the suffering, the sacrifice and the struggle of LGBTI Canberrans, their parents and their families finds a voice and a champion in this assembly.”
Barr wished all same-sex couples who intended to marry under the law “long and happy lives together,” and ended by saying: “it is a delight to be here at this moment”.