Labor Senator Louise Pratt’s call for same-sex marriage equality and better recognition of the gender diverse community in her maiden speech last week was praised as a historic step by community leaders.

I look forward to a time when we will have removed at a federal level all discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexuality, the senator said.

To a time when my partner is not denied a passport because his gender is not recognised under our laws, to a time when my friends’ children all enjoy the same rights and protections under Commonwealth law regardless of whether their parents are straight or gay, to a time when, if my gay friends wish to be legally married, they can be.

Pratt has been open about her relationship with Aram Hosie, who began transitioning to become a man after they met, and joins Bob Brown, Brian Greig and Penny Wong as the fourth ever openly-gay senator.

While not the first time Pratt has raised the continuing marriage inequality -” she called the relationship registers an inadequate response at last year’s Labor national conference -” it was the first time a Federal Government member has done so while in office.

The former WA Government MLC added there was no electoral backlash after her home state removed discrimination and polls supporting same-sex relationship recognition were strongest there as well, which she credited to progressive government leadership.

It is our responsibility to offer such leadership, Pratt said.

Australian Marriage Equality spokeswoman Sharon Dane said this leadership needs to come now, and would not wait until Labor is forced to reexamine the issue at its next National Labor Conference in 2010.

This is the easiest way to address the issue. While other groups have said let’s get one thing at a time, and some progress is appreciated, but why do this piecemeal rather than solve the problem in one easy step, Dane told Sydney Star Observer.

Greens GLBT spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young gave her maiden speech to the Senate on Monday but did not address current inequalities or her reform agenda, but is on record supporting same-sex marriage.

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