Marriage equality got its first proper hearing in the House of Representatives on Monday in response to a motion from Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt.

The Bandt motion, seconded by Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie, noted that countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Canada and South Africa allow same-sex marriage and there is “widespread support for equal marriage” in the Australia”.

The motion called on “all parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality”.

“Love knows no limits. And love knows when it has found its partner,” Bandt said.
“There have been many attempts through history to limit love. All have failed. As we move further into the 21st century, I am confident that attempts to limit love will fail again and that full marriage equality will become a reality.”

However, on introducing the motion, Bandt attempted to amend it to read, “this House calls on all parliamentarians, consistent with their duties as representatives, to gauge their constituents’ views on ways to achieve equal treatment for same-sex couples, including marriage”.

It was challenged by Liberal Bronwyn Bishop, but the ammended motion was apparently more agreeable to the Government as Labor’s Stephen Jones successfully moved an identical amendment.

Jones then became the first Labor MP to speak in favour of the motion and same-sex marriage, and was soon joined by Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson.

Phillip Ruddock spoke to oppose same-sex marriage as did the Liberals’ Bruce Billson who spoke in favour of civil unions.

Coalition MP Warren Entsch spoke in favour of same-sex marriage but said a range of issues where intersex and transgender people faced discrimination and issues around GLBTI ageing should be a greater priority for the Parliament. He then announced the formation of a GLBTI-friendly cross-parliamentary group and invited MPs to join.

Malcolm Turnbull said he was not yet a supporter of same-sex marriage but said he would join the GLBTI-friendly parliamentary group initiated by Entsch and agreed with Entsch that there were other GLBTI issues that should be dealt with first, as did the Liberals Teresa Gambaro.

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