LONG-time marriage equality campaigners were surprised and welcoming of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s admission she supports marriage equality and believe it will spark a renewed momentum on the issue.
The revelation was made on Channel Ten’s The Project on Monday night (scroll down for video) when Bishop said she “had no concerns” about same-sex marriage, but supported a public vote to let the Australian people decide on the issue.
[showads ad=MREC]While many were lining up to question the Western Australian minister’s timing in announcing her support and to analyse what it means politically, a recently-married Perth man was happy to bask in the positive step forward in the marriage equality debate.
“I think it’s a good thing that we’ve got a conservative representative in Perth actually coming out for marriage equality,” said Evan Roberts, who married his partner of eight years in December last year.
“This is one of many steps forward and should be seen with optimism and not for political playing.
“It could be a new platform for the Liberal Party with a new leader (Malcolm Turnbull) who supports marriage equality and now with Julie Bishop it could be a step for all the Liberal politicians to fall in line, one by one.”
Roberts married Trent Suidgeest in a glamorous — but not legal — ceremony in Fremantle last year surrounded by family and friends. Two days later the couple were married legally at the British Consulate in Perth, thanks to Roberts’ status as a dual citizen of Australia and the UK.
He said the couple were disappointed to have to go through the ritual twice and wanted to be married legally in front of their loved ones.
“That day was our special day with all our family and all of our friends, and we had to have these fake certificates,” he said.
“It did strike a nerve and we did feel disappointed.
“We’re both Australians and we love our country and it doesn’t strike you often that you don’t have equal rights, but in that moment we realised we don’t have the same rights as everyone else.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome agreed that Bishop’s support was a significant moment in the marriage equality debate.
“It’s a turning point in getting reform… because she does carry a lot of influence in the Liberal Party,” he said.
“She is quite a well respected parliamentarian and well liked politician.
“Her support will encourage other Liberals to come in and support marriage equality.”
Far north Queensland backbench MP and long-time marriage equality supporter Warren Entsch said he was pleased with Bishop’s support and wanted to get the vote to the people as soon as possible.
“I welcome the fact that Julie has outlined her personal support for marriage equality and the plebiscite, and her recognition that this issue is deeply personal for a large sector of the community,” he said.
“I’m not sure if her comments are going to change any of my colleagues’ views, and I don’t believe they were intended to do so, however it’s encouraging to see more individuals of influence expressing a personal opinion on marriage equality.”[showads ad=FOOT]