Debate on a NSW Greens motion calling on the federal parliament to legalise same-sex marriage has resumed in the NSW Legislative Council.
Liberal MLC Matthew Mason-Cox was the first to speak against the bill, telling the chamber that he believed that same-sex couples no longer suffered discrimination under the law, and that it was disgraceful to compare the ban on same-sex couples marrying with institutional homophobia.
Labor MLC Amanda Fazio was the next to speak, telling the chamber that, while she did not believe in the institution of marriage, she did support the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Labor MLC Lynda Voltz told the chamber that while Judeo-Christian religious arguments underpinned opposition to same-sex marriage, archaeology in the Middle East did not support the factuality of religious texts, and religion should not define the legal meaning of marriage in Australia.
Voltz finished by quoting Oscar Wilde – “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
Liberal MLC Charlie Lynn spoke against the motion, saying he could not agree with the argument that the ban on same-sex couples marrying amounted to discrimination.
Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack has told the chamber that she will vote in favour of the motion and same-sex marriage and that governments should not intrude into people’s personal lives and that the rights heterosexual couples take for granted should be extended to all couples.
Greens MLC Jan Barham will support the motion. No surprises there.
Labor MLC Shaoquett Moselmane, the first Muslim member of the NSW Parliament, has told the chamber that he personally opposes same-sex marriage, but said he would consider abstaining on the motion as he believed the legal system should treat LGBTI people the same as everyone else.
Moselmane supports National MLC Trevor Khan’s amendment reassuring faith groups that they will not be required to marry couples against their beliefs.
Donnelley will move an amendment to the motion stating that marriage has historically been a union between a man and a woman for the purpose of raising children, and that the European Court of Human Rights has not found same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right.
Donnelley’s moving the motion means that any MLC who has already spoken may now speak again.
Nationals MLC Rick Colless has told the chamber that he cannot support the motion, not because he is homophobic but because of his Christian background and extended family.
Colless says he is not against same-sex couples being joined in a union, but that it should not be called marriage. He understands that many same-sex couples do not like the name “civil unions” so maybe another name is needed – but not marriage.
Colless says he will support the Donnelley amendment to the motion.
Labor’s Adam Serle MLC will support the motion “without any reservation,” comparing the ban on same-sex marriage with past discrimination against racial and religious minorities and women.
Serle says he is in an unmarried relationship, but he has that choice and that all Australians should have that same choice regardless of sexuality.
Serle says that marriage is a civil institution and questions what legal opposition there can be to same-sex couples marrying outside the church.
Serle says that claims that LGBTIs are seeking additional rights to other people are easily dismissed, and that definitions of family have already changed in Australia for heterosexual couples with divorce and re-marriage and blended families.
Greens MLC John Kaye “enthusiastically” supports the bill. He says people’s sexuality is their own business and that human rights are universal and absolute and exist regardless of an individual’s sexuality.
Kaye says that if marriage was essentially about procreation then non-fertile heterosexual couples would not be able to marry – but that is not the case.
Opposition leader in the Legislative Council, Labor’s Luke Foley says that he is a Catholic but cannot support his church’s position that homosexuals must not act out their romantic feelings.
Foley says he supported legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt last year.
However he says that he opposes same-sex marriage. He says that this is not out of homophobia and he supports civil unions with identical rights and obligations to marriage.
Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham says he can remember seeing gay rights protestors being arrested and beaten in this country as recently as the 1990’s when he lived in Tasmania.
“We should apply our laws in an equal way regardless of sexuality,” Buckingham says in supporting the motion.
Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack is criticising the Donnelley amendment which seeks to change the motion from supporting marriage equality to opposing it – thus negating any vote on it.
Cusack says that parts of the amendment that claim that marriage has always been between just one man and one woman are contradicted by history. She urges Donnelley to produce his own separate motion rather than amending the motion before the Parliament and urges all MLCs to vote against the Donnelley amendment.
The motion’s author, Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann, is speaking about the Donnelley amendment. Faehrmann says Donnelley was disingenuous in asking her for extra time for speakers and then using that time to move an amendment which would scuttle the motion.
Liberal MLC David Clarke supports the Donnelley amendment. No surprise as he leads the Liberal’s Christian right faction. Clarke claims the Greens would shut down all Christian schools if they had the chance and want to force clergy to marry same-sex couples against their will.
Liberal MLC Marie Ficarra is speaking in support of the Donnelley amendment. She opposes same-sex marriage and hopes the issue will be the subject of a referendum.
Labor’s Eric Roozendaal says that as a married person he appreciates the value of marriage and supports the right of same-sex couples to marry. He knows of many same-sex couples who are good parents and many opposite-sex couples who are not.
Roozendaal opposes the Donnelley amendment.
Labor MLC Helen Westwood is speaking to oppose the Donnelley amendment. She says there is no obligation in the Marriage Act for couples to have children and says research shows that children raised by same-sex couples do as well as those raised by heterosexuals.
Westwood says that her two daughters and eight grandchildren have not been disadvantaged by her same-sex relationship.
Labor’s Linda Voltz is speaking against the Donnelley amendment. She says she knows same-sex parents who are better parents than she is.
Christian Democrats leader the Rev Fed Nile says he supports the Khan amendment reassuring faith groups but he will also support the Donnelley amendment and persist with an amendment of his own.
Cate Faehrmann is speaking for a final time – a vote is expected soon.
The Legislative Council will vote on the Donnelley amendment first, then the Nile amendment, then the Khan amendment and motion.
The Donnelley amendment is defeated 26 to 13.
The Nile amendment is defeated 24 to 14.
The Khan amendment is passed on the voices.
Cate Faehrmann’s bill is passed 22 to 16 making New South Wales the second Australian state to pass a motion in support of marriage equality following Tasmania, who’s motion used an identical form of words.