By Andrew M. Potts
Close to a hundred people attended a rally in Canberra on Saturday in support of the ACT Greens’ Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill, which will be put to a vote on Wednesday.
Both the Greens and the Stanhope Labor Government support the bill, which will allow same-sex couples an official ceremony when they enter into a civil union.
However, the Federal Government can veto the bill once it passes into law. It blocked a previous version of the civil unions law in April 2008 because it included ceremonies, leading to a compromise bill without ceremonies being passed the following month.
The rally began at 1pm in Garema Place in Civic, with protesters then marching to the ACT’s Legislative Assembly.
Speakers from the Equal Love campaign and the National Union of Students addressed the crowd.
“If the Rudd Government chose to override this bill, it would constitute an insult to the rights of many loving couples in the ACT, and a contravention of the ACT Government’s right to legislate for equality,” Equal Love Canberra spokesman John Kloprogge told Sydney Star Observer.
“Today’s successful rally for civil union ceremonies demonstrated the depth of feeling on this issue in the ACT. The community has demanded that we take this step toward equality and respect for all loving couples.”
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, who introduced the bill, told the crowd a veto would be resisted by supporters of equality in the Federal Parliament.
“We are pushing for this bill not just because the voters want it, but because it’s the right thing to do. And we will take it right through to the very end,” Rattenbury said.
Supportive people of faith were represented at the rally by Jonathan Benyei, who spoke in favour of the bill on behalf of the Quaker community in the ACT.
Quakers have been performing religious same-sex marriages in Australia since 2007. In August this year Canberra Quakers wrote to the Government to ask that the Marriage Act be reformed to include same-sex couples.