Marriage equality advocates have strongly welcomed plans by the Greens to establish yet another parliamentary inquiry into same-sex marriage.
An inquiry was held in 2009, the same year Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young tabled her marriage equality amendment bill, which is yet to be voted on.
The 2009 inquiry report called for the Australian Government to reverse its ban on Certificates of Non Impediment for gay couples marrying overseas but stopped short of supporting a change in the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to wed.
Hanson-Young said the inquiry will be an opportunity to thrash out some of the issues surrounding marriage equality.
“Sending it to an inquiry will let MPs raise questions and suggest amendments because we know there are still members of parliament who have yet to make up their minds ,” she said in Canberra today.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national spokesman Alex Greenwich welcomed the inquiry as a chance for lobbyists to target MPs due to vote on the issue.
“It’s time for an in-depth inquiry into marriage equality that looks at key issues of concern for MPs including the protection of religious freedoms, the inadequacy of civil unions, the mental health impacts of discrimination and the impact of same-sex marriage overseas,” Greenwich said.
“There was an inquiry in 2009 but that was when both major parties opposed the issue and the final report was brief and not very useful.
“Three years on, far more countries have introduced marriage equality, far more compelling research has been done and far more is known about the positive impacts it has on marriage and on society.”
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokeswoman Shelley Argent backed Greenwich’s claims.
“The inquiry will be able to address the new research that has come out since 2009,” Argent said.
“As a parent of a gay male I believe this marriage inquiry will show that no individual or group (religious or otherwise) can or will be negatively affected, but my son and others in the gay community can only benefit having their relationships recognised and validated by society as a whole.”
Brisbane psychologist Paul Martin, who specialises in counselling gay and lesbian people, welcomed Hanson-Young’s calls.
“The inquiry will provide an opportunity to put forward the evidence strongly linking marriage equality and better mental health,” Martin said.
“This evidence includes recent public statements by the American Psychological Association and the Australian Psychological Society that same-sex couples and their children experience higher levels of psychological distress when the couples concerned are denied the right to marry.”
Labor backbencher Stephen Jones is set to introduce a private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage when parliament returns in February.
Labor MPs have been granted a conscience vote on the issue, however, so far Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is standing firm on opposing a free vote for Coalition MPs.
Earlier this month marriage equality advocates called for more time to lobby MPs before any vote on the issue is held.