Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee
Senator Hanson has spent a lot of time talking about intolerance in this debate. The intolerance has come from the 'no' vote. The intolerance has come from people like the Lyle Sheltons of the world and some of our own members of the Senate. They have tried to filibuster this debate. They've tried to push it away as fast as they can and as far as they can, which is why I made the move earlier this week to push two more hours into the debate session yesterday so that we can get this vote done and dusted by about 11.30 this morning.
Last week on Sky we had Senator Bernardi, who was boasting that there would be 62 amendments to this issue. I said at the time: 'Well, there'll be 60 of them, obviously, for you. I'll be voting against.' The other side, Senator Hanson, have been listening to you. We've been listening to you for months and months and months. The issue has been going on for months. For gay people, it has been going on for years and years. The Prime Minister says that this issue has brought Australia together, has united Australia, because we voted 62 to 38 in favour of same-sex marriage. It didn't unite Australia. It did in one way, I'll grant that, but I think of the LGBT people in this country this Christmas. When Christmas comes along and they are sitting there at the table, and suddenly a gay man finds out that his own dad voted no, how's that going to be at their Christmas table in all the bonhomie of the Yuletide season? That's what angers me about this.
I voted the plebiscite down. My vote was one of the ones that killed the plebiscite, and I'm proud of it. I was opposed to the postal ballot. The one thing the postal ballot has done is show that the majority of Australians do want same-sex marriage. I recall the day the vote came up. The man from the Bureau of Statistics did his Rob Oakeshott impersonation and went on for minutes and minutes. Coincidentally, I was standing next to Penny Wong. I looked at her and I said to her: 'Do you want time by herself? It's going to be a terrible time for you. Do you want to be alone?' She said, 'No.' Then I said to Senator Wong, 'I apologise.' I said: 'This is a disgrace—the fact that we are standing here now, at four minutes to 10, and your life is being decided by strangers. People you don't even know are deciding how you should live your life, how you should either have or not have the same rights as every other Australian, whether you get married or don't get married.' And there are gay people who won't get married, who don't want to get married and they won't, but at least they'll have the same rights.
I've said before that it's a shame that it took us so long. Who would have thought that Ireland and New Zealand, across the ditch, would get there before we did? I'm proud to be here today. I'm proud we're going to do this. We talk about religion and tolerance—and I'll stay away from the specifics—but, as an atheist, I find it offensive for anybody to stand and lecture me because in the mornings I do not stand up here to recite the Lord's Prayer. I do put my head down to acknowledge the Indigenous people in this country, but that is my right and my lot. It's offensive for you, Senator Hanson, to even allude to it.