The Marriage Act Amendment (Recognition of Foreign Marriages for Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2013, which was defeated with 28 votes for and 44 against, would have allowed same-sex couples with marriages solemnised in jurisdictions allowing gay marriage such as New York and Spain to have their relationships recognised upon entry to Australia. The bill would have provided a legal loophole to LGBTI Australians who have married overseas seeking to have their relationships recognised domestically, as well as foreign same-sex partners visiting Australia.
Speaking in favour of the bill, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young urged fellow Senators to “vote for what you know is right” in spite of party restrictions.
“Regardless of what your leaders have told you, think with your hearts and open your minds. There is goodwill in the Australian community to rid our law books of this discrimination,” Hanson-Young said.
Labor Senator Louise Pratt said that while the bill’s likely failure brought her “a great deal of distress,” she would “not stop fighting” for equality either as an LGBTI person or as a Senator.
“As more and more countries put Australia to shame and introduce marriage equality, the number of couples sadly unable to marry here who have gone overseas to marry will continue to grow. Australia’s non-recognition of marriage overseas is imposing unnecessary hurt and hardship on these couples. LGBTI Australian are not your political playthings – we deserve better than this,” Pratt said.
Liberal Senator George Brandis accused Hanson-Young of being “puffed up with moral vanity” and claimed the bill was technically defective.
“Were it to be passed, it would produce this bizarre result where Australia would recognise same-sex marriages solemnised overseas while continuing to prohibit them in Australia, leaving Australian law in an inconsistent and ridiculous state. There is something chillingly unpleasant about hearing Senator Hanson-Young give one of her emotive speeches and claim that hers is the only legitimate point of view,” Brandis said in the Senate.
Numerous Senators speaking in favour of the bill criticised Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s continued refusal to allow Coalition parliamentarians a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, likely dooming any such bill to failure.
The bill, which was introduced by Hanson-Young after an expected vote on domestic same-sex marriage earlier this month failed to materialise, is likely to be the last chance the 43rd Parliament will have to vote on same-sex marriage before the federal election in September.