'Allow same-sex marriage': Senate Inquiry
The Senate Inquiry into same-sex marriage has recommended that Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s Marriage Equality (Amendment) Bill 2010 be adopted into law.
In a report tabled this afternoon, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee found that the current laws discriminate against same-sex attracted people and has recommended that a conscience vote on the bill be allowed by all parties.
“It is overwhelmingly apparent, though, from the evidence received that same-sex couples feel that the current definition of marriage in the Marriage Act discriminates against them because they are denied the fundamental social, cultural, psychological, administrative and legal benefits that marriage can provide,” the report said.
“As a result, and on balance, the committee strongly supports legislation to provide for marriage equality in Australia, on the basis that it will remove discrimination in this important area for same-sex couples.
“In saying this, the committee acknowledges the significance of the institution of marriage and the place that it holds in Australian society. The committee considers that allowing all couples access to marriage – regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity – will only strengthen the institution of marriage, and increase its value and importance.”
Greens’ human rights spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, said the majority of the committee supported the public’s view in support of same-sex marriage.
"They told us they feel like second-class citizens, that their mental health has been impaired because their love is still not treated equally under Australia's civil marriage law,” she said.
"Our parliament has now heard clear evidence of why discrimination should be removed from the Marriage Act. As the inquiry heard, changes made to federal laws in 2008 have rendered same-sex attracted Australians mostly equal under the law, but still separate when it comes to marriage.
"We also ask the Prime Minister to show leadership as other world leaders have done in understanding the importance of equality and voting in accordance with her party’s policy. We call on Labor MPs to vote according to the ALP's policy, and back marriage equality in this term of parliament.”
Same-sex marriage advocates have welcomed the Senate report and said it is in line with 46,000 submissions made to the inquiry in support of marriage equality.
“This is a watershed moment in the marriage equality debate because Coalition, Labor and Greens members of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee have joined forces to help progress a reform a majority of Australians want,” Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said.
“This report has given voice to the very powerful conservative case for same-sex marriage, and has also called on Mr Abbott to allow members of the Coalition the opportunity to vote for reform and express their support for marriage equality as conservatives.”
The report was backed by individual ALP, Greens and Coalition senators.