Veteran Labor politician Bob McMullan has announced he will retire at the next federal election.
McMullan, currently parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, plans to devote his time to the fight against world poverty.
McMullan, 62, was one of just two members of the House of Representatives to have voiced support for same-sex marriage.
McMullan joined the ALP in 1973 following his involvement in the campaign to end the Vietnam War.
He was chosen to fill a casual Senate vacancy in 1988, spending the next 22 years in federal Parliament, representing the ACT with stints in both houses.
Last September McMullan voiced support for marriage equality at a community meeting in the Canberra suburb of Ainslie.
In response to a question from a constituent, McMullan said, “If it came to a free vote in the Parliament, I will vote for civil unions and I will vote for gay marriage.”
The only other MP to express support for same-sex marriage, Labor’s Peter Garrett, has been silent since being asked about the issue on Channel 10 in 2006.
In the Senate, marriage equality is supported by Labor’s Louise Pratt.
Gay and lesbian advocates expressed sadness that McMullan had decided to retire so soon after voicing his support, but Corey Irlam of Australian Coalition for Equality said that McMullan, a former ALP national secretary, could still be an ally from outside Parliament.
“We’d hope that Mr McMullan continues to push for reforms inside the ALP as a senior party member,” Irlam said.
“We wish him well in his international endeavours and encourage him to advocate for decriminalisation of LGBT people in any of the countries he works in.”
In related news, the Australian Democrats have recommitted their support for the fight for same-sex marriage, following comments from the party’s Tasmanian division president, James Irvine, in response to the formation of a socially conservative environmental party in that state.
“Our position on same-sex marriage is backed up by all of our five core beliefs — freedom, equality, sustainability, representation and responsibility,” Australian Democrats national president Julia Melland said.
“This is one fight we won’t back away from and one of the reasons we are working so hard to rebuild the Australian Democrats.”
The Greens remain the only party in federal Parliament to support marriage equality.