Asked to vote on a NSW relationships register, NSW parliamentarians showed that progress in perception has been made. However, those old fears of society’s destruction at the hands of gay and lesbian relationships remain.

The Relationships Register Bill, portentously introduced to the lower house the day former NSW attorney-general Jeff Shaw died, showed that for some, the discourse has remained stuck in a time-vortex stretching back to 1999 when amendments to the Property (Relationships) Act first granted same-sex couples de facto status.

Fred Nile was still lamenting that the “homosexual lobby group” would not go away, and fearing to even let the gays in the door of NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages could somehow damage that fine institution’s reputation.

“This is a phoney marriage bill,” he declared. “I ask members to note the word ‘marriages’ in the title [of Births, Deaths and Marriages].

“If members who are promoting the bill, including the Attorney General, want some registration of the relationship, the registration could have been lodged with some other government department such as the Department of Community Services or the Community Relations Commission, and kept right away from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.”

Family First’s Dr Gordon Moyes claimed the move was a “backdoor attempt at marriage”.

“Children have a right to be raised by a mother and father, not just two adults of the same sex, no matter how loving they may be,” he said.

“Marriage between a man and a woman is the most sophisticated of all human relationships. It is understandable that many couples cannot sustain such significant, close intimacy.”

Liberal MLC Marie Ficarra also trotted out marriage as a reason to discriminate.

“I believe that legislation such as this further erodes the institution of marriage and family — the solid rock base of our society in this country,” she said.

Liberal member David Clarke said such a bill would irrevocably blur the lines between federally defined marriage and same-sex unions, and could encourage same-sex marriage advocates to adopt “the salami technique” to push for change “one slice at a time”.

Clarke didn’t mind if gays and lesbians held equal rights in taxation or social security law, but to grant relationship recognition would be one step too far.

“Why should such relationships not be given this status, as to make them indistinguishable from marriage?” he asked.

“Marriage is not just a private affair. Society has a stake in the maintenance of those family structures that have, over time, been tried and proven to be most fruitful for the raising and education of future generations,” shadow Attorney General Greg Smith said.

Smith compared the bill’s introduction to the Battle of the Alamo and the ‘defenders of marriage’ to the residents of war-torn Derry in Northern Ireland — a place where, incidentally, they have allowed same-sex civil unions since 2005.

The Dishonour Roll

The politicians who voted against the bill

Greg Aplin MLA,
Liberal Member for Albury

Katrina Hodgkinson MLA,
Nationals Member for Burrinjuck

Malcolm Kerr MLA,
Liberal Member for Cronulla

Wayne Merton MLA,
Liberal Member for Baulkham Hills

Michael Richardson MLA,
Liberal Member for Castle Hill

Andrew Stoner MLA,
Nationals Member for Oxley

Ray Williams MLA,
Liberal Member for Hawkesbury

Thomas George MLA,
Nationals Member for Lismore

Greg Smith MLA,
Liberal Member for Epping

David Clarke MLC,
Liberal Party

Rev. Gordon Moyes MLC,
Family First

Rev. Fred Nile MLC,
Christian Democratic Party

Marie Ficarra MLC,
Liberal Party

Matthew Mason-Cox MLC,
Liberal Party

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