Bill Shorten Introduces Historic Marriage Equality Bill

Hon Bill Shorten MP Official portrait 20 March 2013

Labor Leader Bill Shorten has introduced his private members bill for marriage equality into the Australian parliament.

The first time the leader of a major political party has brought forward a bill on marriage equality.

“The laws of our nation should give us hope,” said the Leader of the Opposition, “Our laws should tell our children what we believe, our laws should tell strangers who Australians are, our laws should be a mirror reflecting our great and generous country and our fee inclusive society.

Declaring that parliament was a place for leadership, Mr Shorten said the parliament had not been leading in the area of marriage equality.

“Our parliament should be a place where we make things happen, rather than sit back and let then happen. On marriage equality for too long, we in this parliament have been following not leading.”

Mr Shorten argued that the law needed to be changed because the current marriage laws did not describe modern Australia.

“Let us delay no more, let us embrace a definition of marriage that respects, values and includes every Australian.

“Let us declare in the house of the Australian people that it is time, the right time to make marriage equality a reality.”

Mr Shorten called on all members of parliament to take part in a respectful and considered debate on the issue, and said hoped that a free vote would be able to occur on the issue.

“Currently marriage is defined as ‘the union between a man and a woman.’” Mr Shorten said, “Those eight words maintain a fiction that any other relationship is somehow inferior. Our legislation proposes a new definition, the union of two people.”

Mr Shorten said the allowing celebrants the choice between saying a husband and wife or two partners would seem like a small gesture to many but to others it would mean so much.

“To all lesbian and gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians we offer change that says, ‘your relationship is equal under the law,’ to parents, children, friends and families of same sex partners, just as the people you love are equal in value in your eyes, their relationship should be equal in the eyes of our law.”

Mr Shorten said anyone who found someone they couldn’t live without should be able to share celebrate that bond.

“When someone has found, not just another person they can live with, but a person they can’t live without. Then they should have the same right to the true qualities of a bond that runs deeper than any law, the same joy and sacrifice, the same care and compassion, the same rights and responsibilities.”

The leader of the opposition acknowledged younger LGBTI people saying; “We say to all young gay people, we are proud of you, for who you are, you belong. We say to you that you have a right to the same hopes, dreams and opportunities as every other Australian, including the right to marry the person you love.”

The bill was seconded by Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

As the bill was introduced though Mr Shorten faced an empty chamber on the opposing side as very few coalition members were in the chamber.

The bill introduced by the Labor leader is unlikely to succeed unless the Liberal party changes its stance on marriage equality and allows its members a free vote on the issue.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, indicated prior to the federal election that the issue would be one for the party room if the issue was raised in the new parliament.

Last week the Prime Minister responded to the growing calls for Australia to embrace marriage equality by saying that the issue was something that should be owned by the parliament, rather than a single political party.

Watch Bill Shorten’s speech below, thanks to ABC News24. 

OIP Staff


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