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Obama shows leadership on marriage equality, it's time Gillard and Abbott did

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Sarah Hanson-Young 10 May 2012

US President Barack Obama has shown leadership on changing his mind and heart about marriage equality, giving an opportunity to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to do the same, the Australian Greens said today.

"When President Obama and leaders of our churches can change their minds on letting same-sex couples get married why can't Prime Minister Gillard," Greens' human rights spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

"Pres. Obama is on the right side of history and the views of most Americans who support equal marriage. Survey after survey shows most Australians back letting same-sex couples have the right to choose to get married, yet they are let down by the leaders of the old parties.

"Prime Minister Gillard risks being on the wrong side of Australian history in her continual opposition to marriage equality. Mr Abbott needs to stop obstructing Coalition members from having a conscience vote on it.

"Same-sex couples should be allowed to marriage the person they love in the country they love, and not have to head overseas to share their public commitment to each other.

"With Pres. Obama joining British Conservatives Prime Minister David Cameron in support of marriage equality, it's time all of Australia's parliamentarians were allowed a conscience vote to this year grant marriage equality to same-sex couples.

"Australia's politicians could then show they accept marriage equality is an unstoppable positive force for good that signals to young gay and lesbian Australians that they are equal with heterosexual Australians.

"Gay and lesbian Australians serve our country in the armed forces, they are our doctors and nurses, our entertainers, our teachers and cleaners yet they still remain unequal under Australian law. We must fix the law so they are no longer second-class citizens.

"Clergy members have been visiting federal parliament these past two days to tell their elected representatives why they support marriage equality.

"Their message is helping counter the myth that there's only one view from faith leaders and that's against marriage equality. That's simply not the case, as almost 80 clergy representing more than a dozen faith traditions have signed a public letter in support of changing the Marriage Act.

"Other prominent people of faith such as Kristina Keneally support marriage equality, as does former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, who has changed his mind because he can see the social and mental health improvements when all people are treated equally.

"More than 75,000 people have sent submissions to my Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 - the largest amount in the parliament's history - and most back the Greens' policy to remove discrimination from the Marriage Act."

Audio of Sarah's Senate door stop with John Klopprogge, Executive Officer, Australian Marriage Equality; Pastor Mike Hercock, Surry Hills Baptist Church, Sydney;  Rev Gary Bouma, Assistant priest, St John's Anglican Church, East Malvern, Melbourne and Professor of Sociology, Monash University;  Rev Roger Munson, St James Uniting Church, Curtin, ACT.


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