GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality (AME) today presented a pro-marriage equality petition of 140,285 signatures to the ALP National Conference in Sydney. An anti-marriage equality petition by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) fell 10,000 signatures short of its goal of 100,000.

“This petition confirms what polls already show — Australians say ‘I do’ to marriage equality,” AME national convenor Alex Greenwich said.

“The Australian public has spoken and I’m confident Labor is listening. If, as predicted, the Labor Party changes its platform to support marriage equality it will be a victory for love over prejudice and for equality over discrimination.”

Greenwich said, if the party platform is changed, a conscience vote should not be offered.

“Any new policy should be a binding one — the Labor Party voted as a bloc to entrench discrimination in the Marriage Act in 2004, and they should vote as a bloc now to end that discrimination,” he said.

“But if the party settles for a conscience vote we are still confident the issue will move forward. The momentum on this issue is unstoppable. There are many people in the Coalition who support equality.”

“This weekend delegates to the Labor Party National Conference will vote on whether or not legislated discrimination is acceptable to the ALP and to the Australian people,” GetUp! national director Simon Sheikh said.

“Petitions like the one we have presented today and consistent polling show that the majority of Australians support this change and it is fundamentally the right thing to do, so it’s time for delegates to step up do the right thing, to end inequality under the law.

“Many delegates have already expressed their support for change. Not only is this welcome but it also provides young gay and lesbian Australians with hope that one day they will be able to live the life of their dreams.

IN PICTURES: The petition handover

The mental health impacts of discrimination cannot be underestimated and that’s why we and over 140,000 other Australians urge delegates to change the Labor platform to recognise marriage as a commitment made by two people who love each other, regardless of their gender.”

Sheikh also pointed to marriage equality as an issue important to the party’s commitment to reform and renewal.

“To be true to that, it’s important that no matter who opposes ending marriage discrimination the voices of delegates are heard loud and clear,” Sheikh said.

“Labor’s fundamental values are ones of equity, social justice and fairness. This issue, more than so many others which will be debated over the coming days, defines those values.”

The GetUp!/AME petition reads:

“Prime Minister Gillard, delegates to the ALP National Conference: Not allowing same-sex couples to marry denies them and their families legal equality and perpetuates discrimination and prejudice. The overwhelming majority of Australians support full marriage equality and it is the right thing to do. Marriage matters: amend the Commonwealth Marriage Act so that same-sex partners can be wed.”

Those who accepted the petition from federal politics included MPs Anthony Albanese and Laura Smyth, and senators Doug Cameron, Gavin Marshall and Louise Pratt.

From state and territory politics were Victorian state MPs Richard Wynne and Jane Garrett, Tasmanian premier Lara Giddings, ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr, SA Labor branch secretary Jamie Newlyn, NSW MLC Penny Sharpe, WA Labor branch president Alanna Clohesy, WA MLCs Jon Ford and Sally Talbot, while from the labor movement were AMWU WA state secretary Steve McCartney, ASU SA & NT branch secretary Katrine Hildyard and ASU NSW & ACT branch secretary Sally McManus.

The ACL petition was accepted by SDA national secretary Joe de Bruyn.

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