Renewed push for Senate inquiry into marriage equality
Marriage equality advocates were joined by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young just before midday in Canberra today to push for a new Senate inquiry on the issue, which they believe would help tackle lingering concerns held by some MPS as well as members of the wider community.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) convener Alex Greenwich said that an inquiry would be beneficial as far more was now known about how marriage equality laws were faring in other countries since the last inquiry in 2009.
“Far more countries have introduced marriage equality, far more research has been done and far more is known about the positive impacts it has on marriage and on society,” he said.
“It’s time for an in-depth inquiry into marriage equality that looks at key issues of concern for MPs, including the protection of religious freedoms, the adequacy of civil unions, the mental health impacts of discrimination and the positive impact of same-sex marriage overseas.”
In making the announcement outside Parliament House, Hanson-Young (pictured) has called for the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee to hold a second inquiry on her 2009 bill to legalise same-sex marriage when Parliament resumes next month.
Hanson-Young earlier told The Age that she is not “interested in stunts” but in “getting the law changed”.
The inquiry has been welcomed by the likes of the GetUp, NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) spokesperson Shelley Argent as well as Brisbane based psychologist Paul Martin, who specialises in counselling gay and lesbian people.
“The inquiry will provide an opportunity to put forward the evidence strongly linking marriage equality and better mental health,” he said.
“This evidence includes recent public statements by the American Psychological Association and the Australian Psychological Society that same-sex couples and their children experience higher levels of psychological distress when the couples concerned are denied the right to marry.”
Meanwhile, it seems that the NSW south coast town of Wollongong will be a key battleground in the continuing fight for marriage equality, with Greenwich and others from AME to visit the region early next month.
Labor’s Throsby MP Stephen Jones has signalled that he will table a private member’s bill in favour of marriage equality, however Labor colleague and Wollongong MP, Noreen Hay, embarrassed Jones last month after forcing through an internal motion stating that marriage was between a man and woman.
The electorate of Throsby is divided on the issue, the Illawarra Mercury reports, with a 2010 poll showing about 40 per cent in support of marriage equality and 40 per cent against.
“What we are doing to help Stephen is we are holding a workshop forum,” Greenwich said.
“It is important for people like Stephen that the electorate understands that this is not an issue of Left versus Right, Labor versus Liberal or God versus gay - this is a reform that affects people across the country and it is important for people from coast to coast.”
Greenwich’s planned visit to Wollongong comes as a new internal group has been formed by conservative members of the Labor Party to campaign against abortion, euthanasia and other issues, soon after last December’s official recognition of marriage equality at the Labor Party National Conference.
Federal MPs who have given their support for the Labor for Life group include Tasmanian Senator Helen Polley as well as Environment Minister Tony Burke.
The group, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, also has links to Australia’s largest union, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, and its staunchly anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion boss Joe de Bruyn.