Garrett stands firm on marriage equality in face of branch attacks
Inspired by US President Barack Obama, Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett has said he will continue to stick by his principles and support marriage equality despite coming under attack from members of his local Labor Party branch for his views.
A storm broke out in Garrett’s electorate of Kingsford Smith, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, last week after members of the Maroubra branch went to the local newspaper to voice their frustration that the former Midnight Oil singer was supporting marriage equality despite a vote by branch members last May calling for the Marriage Act to remain as it is.
The peak body representing Labor branches in the electorate, the ALP Kingsford Smith Federal Electorate Council, has also backed the motion from the Maroubra branch.
Branch members in late August then sent Garrett a letter with 20 questions relating to his views on same-sex marriage which they also forwarded on to the local newspaper.
“It’s a fairly rich area when it comes to the discussion that’s going on – there’s lots of issues that arise out of this so the branch doesn’t want it to be dealt with in a glib manner,” Maroubra branch member Tim Mitchell told the Southern Courier.
“He should not fob off trying to address the issues raised. He should be responsive to the issues and to the party members.”
In response to the accusations, Garrett penned a letter to the Maroubra branch, cited by SX, in which the high-profile MP stated arguments opposing same-sex marriage on grounds that it would “weaken the traditional bonds of marriage” and “cause adverse impacts on children and society” were flimsy at best.
“For the record I am a strong supporter of marriage, having been in that happy state for 27 years and I greatly value family life.
“At the same time, I don’t consider that sexual orientation in and of itself is sufficient reason to deny any person the right to which others are entitled. In that sense I find myself in agreement with President Obama, amongst others, who have identified the denial of this right as an important issue to be considered,” Garrett wrote.
“Just as I do not believe we should discriminate against people on the basis of race or religious views, the same applies in this instance to the question of choice of partner and the equal recognition of that choice and commitment by the state.”
Garrett’s principled stance stands in contrast to the positions taken up by the likes of Labor MPs Ed Husic and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, both of whom personally support marriage equality but will vote against a bill in Federal Parliament due to pressure from local branch members and some constituents within their Western Sydney electorates.