Time we MPs step up and get mar­riage leg­is­la­tion passed

The Courier-Mail - - OPINION - TREVOR EVANS Trevor Evans is the Lib­eral Mem­ber for Bris­bane

IF the ma­jor­ity of us have voted “yes” to same-sex mar­riage – and I be­lieve we have – we are on the cusp of a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for our coun­try.

It’s a process that Aus­tralians will be able to own; to be able to say we helped make equal­ity a re­al­ity.

Every gay Aus­tralian, and every vul­ner­a­ble per­son ques­tion­ing them­selves, will re­ceive the con­fi­dence boost and the val­i­da­tion that they can only get from know­ing the ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralians sup­port them and their equal op­por­tu­nity to make a lov­ing, life­long, le­gal com­mit­ment.

The next log­i­cal step would be to talk about leg­is­lat­ing the re­sult. Yet it is worth re­flect­ing on the sig­nif­i­cance of to­day.

It’s not very of­ten Aus­tralians have come to­gether in favour of chang­ing the sta­tus quo. We’ve held just 44 ref­er­en­dums in this coun­try and only eight have been car­ried. Most of the time, we haven’t wanted change.

Re­form is not easy in mod­ern Aus­tralia. As Queens­land’s first openly gay MP, I know that same-sex mar­riage has been a vexed topic for many years. For such a di­vi­sive and per­sonal is­sue that has played out in the na­tional dis­course for more than a decade, ev­ery­day Aus­tralians de­serve to own the re­sult and em­brace it as some­thing that they played their part in achiev­ing.

As for leg­is­lat­ing a “yes” vote, I will work with my col­leagues to en­sure fair and bal­anced leg­is­la­tion passes through the Par­lia­ment.

I for one would be will­ing to keep the Par­lia­ment sit­ting for as long as it takes to have this mat­ter prop­erly re­solved be­fore Christ­mas.

When many be­lieve we have al­ready shirked our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as politi­cians, it is only fair to see this through be­fore the year is out.

Ear­lier this year, I worked with Sen­a­tor Dean Smith and oth­ers to de­velop a Bill that has re­ceived broad sup­port from across the Par­lia­ment as well as re­li­gious and com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions.

It came out of a cross-party se­nate com­mit­tee that con­sulted widely to find a good bal­ance be­tween equal­ity and re­li­gious free­doms. Its start­ing point was a Bill drafted by our At­tor­ney-Gen­eral.

There may be other rea­son­able Bills or amend­ments and I look for­ward to some de­bate where in­di­vid­ual MPs per­suade each other on the mer­its of our ideas and vote ac­cord­ing to our conscience, in­formed by the postal sur­vey re­sults.

But there are no rea­sons or ex­cuses for fur­ther delay. On this his­toric oc­ca­sion, we owe it to all of the Aus­tralians who have ex­pressed their view to re­solve this in a busi­nesslike fash­ion.

We have asked Aus­tralians to play an ex­tra part in our demo­cratic process.

It’s now time to play ours.

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