A historic win for the Greens in the seat of Melbourne has left many in the gay and lesbian community cheering a campaign fought over gay marriage.
At a press conference on Monday new Melbourne MP Adam Bandt said he was proud to be the first Greens member elected to the House of Representatives.
“We campaigned on some positive values of sustainability, compassion and equality, and what Melbourne has said is those values are mainstream values and we want the whole country to hear them,” he said.
“I’m pleased to be here today representing those values.”
During the campaign both Bandt and Labor candidate Cath Bowtell spoke out in support of gay marriage, saying they would push GLBT issues if elected.
Support for the Greens was too strong in the seat which had been held by Labor for over 100 years. Bandt secured 55.7 percent of the vote on a two candidate preferred basis with a swing of more than 10 percent.
“If [same-sex marriage] comes up in the House of Representatives I will speak out publicly and vote in favour of same-sex marriage and that’s a commitment the Labor Party can’t make,” Bandt said.
The win has already spelled trouble for state Labor MPs in the Melbourne area, with the Greens expected to use their success federally in November’s state election.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said the Greens’ stance on gay marriage was part of the reason the party gained wide support at the polling booths on Saturday.
“The overall national swing away from the Labor Party to the Greens is partly because Labor betrayed its own principles by opposing marriage equality, while the Greens have been the only party representing the 60 percent of Australians who support marriage equality,” he told Southern Star Observer.
“In forum after forum, during the last two weeks of the election campaign, we saw people from a wide variety of backgrounds expressing disbelief and anger about the two major parties’ opposition to marriage equality, and yesterday we saw that anger expressed in the polling booths across the nation.”
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Sarah Rogan said Bandt’s support for GLBTI reforms had earned him the support of the community.
“Adam Bandt had a lot of support amongst the queer community and that was seen within the content of the speeches in the last Equal Love rally, there was a lot of support there for the Greens,” Rogan said.
“I do think the queer community is frustrated with Labor and frustrated with Julia Gillard.”
The Greens are expected to pick up a record nine seats in the Senate, delivering them the balance of power and an ideal bargaining position with the major parties for serious social reform.