HUME isn’t ready for legalised gay marriage, at least that’s what our politicians believe.
In a recent letter to the editor, outgoing Member for Hume Alby Schultz stated there was no marriage inequality in this country and suggested gays were discriminating against themselves by not choosing to marry partners of the opposite sex.
Mr Schultz also told parliament that the overwhelming majority of his constituents believed marriage should remain between a man and a woman, stating more than 680 people had contacted him about it and only 46 were in favour of law reform.
When the Post contacted his preferred successor, Liberal candidate for Hume Angus Taylor, he said he would also strive to keep the status-quo.
He didn’t believe the Hume community was “ready” for it and wouldn’t be “any time soon”.
“Social change is slow, and although the proponents of gay marriage are many and their voices are strong, our community is crying out for many things ahead of this,” Mr Taylor said.
“I know some will say that I should show leadership on these sorts of issues, but I will focus my leadership on issues that are less symbolic, and more practical.
“I have sympathy for both sides of this debate, and I understand the indignation that some gay couples feel about this.
“I equally understand the indignation of people who are seriously opposed to gay marriage.
However, I will not be a crusader in driving this kind of change.”
Mr Taylor also said gay relationships were already recognised by the law for all practical purposes - such as superannuation, insurance and de facto relationships - and that he would focus on issues that have big positive impacts on many in the community.
Member for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson recently confirmed she was considering a tilt at Hume. If she’s elected, the Nat won’t seek a change to the Marriage Act.
"I understand that community attitudes are changing however I believe the vast majority of my electorate supports the status quo being that the sanctity of marriage applies between a man and a woman," she told the Post.
While the ALP has opened the issue up to a conscience vote, Labor Senator Ursula Stephens does not support gay marriage.
She drafted the dissenting report on Trish Crossin’s Private Member’s Bill, which suggested the definition of marriage be changed from 'the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life' to 'the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life'.
Senator Stephens believed the bill was poorly drafted and had serious flaws, which could have unintended consequences.
One of the issues identified in her report was possible exploitation such as two neighbours choosing to marry in an attempt to gain favorable tax benefits or rort the welfare system.
“One thing that I am concerned about is the demonisation of those who oppose same sex marriage,” she said.
“To label anyone who is against same sex marriage as homophobic does nothing but divide and enrage those on both sides of the debate.
“Anyone who knows me would never consider me as homophobic. I have a personal view on this issue, which I am entitled to, and as stated it hasn’t changed.”
While Hume doesn’t have a Greens candidate yet, when we do, they will support gay marriage.
Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon told the Post her Party believed that the freedom of sexuality and gender identity was a fundamental human right and that it was time marriage between two consenting adults, regardless of their sex, was recognised in Australian law.
“Australia and the major parties are lagging behind the rest of the world,” Ms Rhiannon said.
“The US President Barack Obama and Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron have declared their support for gay marriage.
This is true leadership, but here in Australia Prime Minister Gillard and the opposition leader Tony Abbott are being left behind by history.
“The Greens are proud to bring forward a bill, currently before the Senate, that legalises gay marriage. We are also delighted at the recent move in Tasmania to recognise marriage equality.
“Marriage is about celebrating the fact two individuals are in a committed and a loving lifelong relationship. No one should be denied this opportunity.”