This year’s Parliamentary sitting year finished on a high note with marriage equality finally becoming a reality in Australia.
As an advocate for marriage equality, I'm particularly delighted and very proud that the Australian Capital Territory recorded the highest ‘yes’ vote of any state or territory in Australia, with 74 percent. And my own electorate had the highest percentage of 'yes' voters in the ACT, with 74.1 percent, and the highest turnout at 83.2 percent.
No one in the chamber could not have been moved by the significance and emotion of that now famous sitting day. All three public galleries were full to the brim with Australians anxious to see history in the making.
Once the bill passed, House of Representatives members from both sides embraced, waved rainbow flags and in some cases cried.
The public galleries erupted into song with the Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton classic ‘I am Australian’.
In my speech in support of the bill, I quoted the famous conservative US lawyer Ted Olson from half a century ago when he was challenging California's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage:
“This fight shouldn't be considered a liberal issue or a conservative issue; it should be considered a matter of equal rights and equal dignity to individuals. People are not, do not choose to be gay. They are born with characteristics that cause their sexual orientation to be what it is. They deserve happiness and equality and dignity and respect and absence of discrimination in their lives the same as the rest of us do.”
Now Australia joins with 25 other countries in support of equality and dignity for same-sex Australians.
Now Australia has delivered for those thousands and thousands of Australians, many of whom are no longer with us, who have waited, who have fought for so long and so hard for marriage equality.