Freshly elected State Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith has come out in support of marriage equality.

The 47-year-old, who has been with partner Paul Weston for more than 20 years, said he was a big supporter of the cause.

“I’m all for genuine marriage equality, not relationship registers, not civil unions — they’re all just quick fixes,” Notley-Smith told the Star Observer.

“Same-sex couples deserve equal recognition. I went to my brother’s wedding and it was terrific. Paul and I don’t have that option and that’s just not right.”

Notley-Smith said he would urge federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott to allow a conscience vote when a bill comes before the House of Representatives.

Notley-Smith was elected to the seat of Coogee at the last state election.

In the mid-’90s he ran as an independent for Randwick Council and lost. But his grassroots appeal and campaign style did not escape Liberal Party elders.

“The Liberal Party approached me after the election and said if you’d like to join, if our philosophy fits with yours then feel free to come aboard,” he said.

“I knew some Liberal members who were gay and discussed at length the prospect of joining. They said for every person who joins the party, the party becomes a bit more like you.”

Notley-Smith was elected to Randwick Council in 2000, was deputy mayor from 2004 to 2005, and then Mayor from 2007 to 2009.

As a former close associate of Malcolm Turnbull, he also hoped the Wentworth MP would push Abbott for a conscience vote.

Despite what many people felt, the Liberal Party had a history of supporting LGBTI rights, Smith said.

“The Liberal Party has a record that stands up in supporting same-sex relationships, decriminalisation of homosexuality and we supported the gay adoption bill.”

But Notley-Smith said his most rewarding achievement had been his partner’s presence in the political arena.

“Paul and I have always said the most powerful political statement we can make is to be out there, be visible and show that gay people can serve the community and be a part of government.”

By ALEX PITTAWAY

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