Punch pushes for swift equality

Ashwini SaseedaranSouth Western Times

Although marriage equality in Australia took a step forward last Wednesday with the Senate passing a landmark bill, Bunbury MLA Don Punch is urging Parliament’s lower house to quickly make same-sex marriage a reality.

Acknowledging the national plebiscite as difficult for many members of the LGBTIQ community, Mr Punch said he was pleased to see the Senate acting swiftly on the community’s overwhelming Yes response by voting 43-12.

“The Senate has shown leadership by refusing to accept amendments that had the potential to legitimise new discriminations against LGBTIQ people,” Mr Punch said.

“I hope the House of Representatives follows the lead of the Senate and moves quickly to pass the bill as printed.”

Edith Cowan University South West education senior lecturer and openly gay man Dr David Rhodes said despite feeling relieved over the survey result, he was finding it difficult to be happy about the passing bill.

“I am frustrated that Parliament is entering into its current series of debates about further legislative inequalities when the majority of Australians just voted to stop LGBTIQ discrimination,” he said.

Describing the Australian marriage equality process as a difficult, vicious and protracted battle, Dr Rhodes said to be scrutinised in such a personal and often unflattering manner was destructive.

“The result in the Senate is a very positive step towards marriage equality but we will carry these scars for some time,” he said.

Thanking those who voted Yes, Dr Rhodes urged Federal politicians to follow in the footsteps of the majority of Australians by legalising same-sex marriage.

“I am proud of who I am and the man I love,” he said.

“We have been together for 18 years and it would be really special to have the choice about whether or not we would like to formalise our relationship through marriage.”

Debate over the same-sex marriage bill is dominating the Lower House’s end of year program.

The final result on the bill is expected to pass into Australian law at the end of the week.

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