THE City of Melbourne is set to join the fight for marriage equality next week when a motion is moved for the council to support the right of Australian same-sex couples to marry.
Councillor Rohan Leppert plans to move the motion, following in the footsteps of a number of other councils around the state where similar support has been shown.
Leppert said his decision to bring the Melbourne council into the marriage equality campaign was largely informed by the public.
“I’ve been approached by quite a few constituents on the issue, and they’ve been wondering why City of Melbourne hasn’t taken an opinion on it yet,” he told the Star Observer.
“So in response to lots of residents talking to me over the course of the last few months, I thought we should get in the debate and help to add pressure to the government.
“It is definitely symbolic but it’s also meant to send the clearest message to Canberra that this is what Melbourne wants… we’re a progressive city.”
Leppert explained that while Melbourne City Council doesn’t have the power to change the legislation themselves, they can make their stance on the issue known to the government.
“It’s a federal issue, but we often advocate to other levels of government that our residents and community feel strongly about,” he said.
“The debate is quite prominent nationally at the moment and elements of that debate are quite ugly.
“Quite a few fringe groups and political parties are becoming increasingly antagonistic and I’m nervous that at the next election, the debate is going to get worse and worse.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome believes the City of Melbourne’s support will have a positive impact.
“A Melbourne City Council marriage equality motion will not only send a strong message to the federal government that it’s time for marriage equality, it will send a strong message to Melbourne’s LGBTI young people that their city values and embraces them,” he told the Star Observer.
“Fostering social inclusion is core business for local government and marriage equality is key to inclusion for LGBTI people.”
Other local government areas which have passed motions in support of marriage equality include the Sydney, Geelong, Hobart, Moreland, Vincent City, Camden, Coonamble Shire, Randwick, Tenterfield Shire, Marrickville, Lachlan Shire, Bega Valley Shire, Blue Mountains, Surf Coast Shire, Hepburn Shire, Albury, Ballarat, Wodonga, Glenorchy, Byron Bay, Port Philip, Leichhardt, Glen Eira, Hobsons Bay, Hepburn Shire, Darebin, Buloke Shire, Shepparton, Maribyrnong, Ashfield, Gosford, and Kingborough.
UPDATE (Oct 28): The City of Melbourne unanimously passed a motion in support of marriage equality at its council meeting on Tuesday, October 27. As part of the motion, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle will write to his fellow Liberal, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to urge action.