AS debate around the bill to legalise same-sex marriage continues, Calare MP Andrew Gee has been among those to support this legislation.
During a speech on Wednesday, he addressed parliament to say he supported the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017.
“This parliament passes legislation on almost every day that it sits,” he said.
“Some bills are forged into laws in the fiery furnace of partisan politics.
“Most legislation passes without much debate, controversy or fanfare. But this bill is neither of those; nevertheless, it will be long remembered.”
Mr Gee said the nation should be proud that it had settled this matter of national significance peacefully.
He commended the public for wanting to be heard on the issue with 79.5 per cent of eligible voters taking part in the postal survey.
Most legislation passes without much debate, controversy or fanfare. But this bill is neither of those; nevertheless, it will be long remembered.
“In Calare, 78.1 per cent of voters returned their forms. This high participation rate is important for two reasons,” Mr Gee said.
“Firstly, it can’t be argued that there isn’t a national mandate for this change to how our society defines marriage.
“Secondly, no Australian of voting age can say that their voice wasn’t heard.
“Nobody can say that their opinion wasn't counted. Every Australian got their say. That’s democracy.”
With the public’s verdict now delivered, Mr Gee said this was the chance for the people “to see their parliament at its best”.
“I followed the passage of this legislation through the Senate and I was impressed with the respectful and constructive manner in which the debate was conducted,” he said.
“I'm confident that the remainder of this debate will also be conducted in the best traditions of the communities we all represent.”
To those same-sex couples in Calare waiting to be married, to their families and friends and to those same-sex couples in Calare who may marry in the future; you have my congratulations and best wishes and those of the electorate.
Mr Gee said some people in the Calare electorate may find the change in how marriage is defined difficult to accept and reconcile.
“It is a significant change, but I ask those people to try to accept it because now is the time for the nation to come together,” he said.
“We should unite across city communities and country communities. Everyone, no matter how they voted, across Calare and across Australia, should now unify.”
Mr Gee acknowledged that there were same-sex couples currently waiting to get married in the Calare electorate.
“They should now have that opportunity, without delay or bitterness, and they should be treated with respect and dignity by all, and I know that, in Calare, they will be,” he said.
Mr Gee said before the last general election, he undertook to respect the will of the Calare electorate on this issue.
“I said it and I meant it. I honour that commitment today,” he said during his speech on Wednesday.
“To those same-sex couples in Calare waiting to be married, to their families and friends and to those same-sex couples in Calare who may marry in the future; you have my congratulations and best wishes and those of the electorate.
“Above all, we wish you happiness in the years ahead. I cast my vote in favour of this legislation for you.”