Australia has officially become the 26th country to legalise same-sex marriage after the law passed on Thursday, December 7 with the overwhelming backing of the Federal Parliament.
Thirteen years after changing the Marriage Act to explicitly forbid same-sex unions, federal politicians voted to undo the last major piece of discrimination against gay and lesbian Australians.
It followed last month's emphatic resolution of the Australian public in the postal survey to join the rest of the English-speaking world by embracing marriage equality.
Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, spoke in Parliament on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill.
Mr Hartsuyker told the House he welcomed the opportunity to place his position and views in relation to same-sex marriage on the public record.
“I have always been clear on my stance with regard to same-sex marriage that I personally don't support that, and in fact I recorded a no vote in that survey. But I certainly respect the decision of the Australian people,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
Mr Hartsuyker said he would respect the decision made by the majority of Australians.
“The response to that survey was absolutely overwhelming, with some 79.5 per cent of people deciding to participate in that survey.
“Just as the participation in the survey was so overwhelming, so was the result, with some 61.6 per cent of Australians answering yes and 38.4 per cent answering no.
“That was broadly the response that was achieved in my electorate, with some 60 per cent answering yes and 40 per cent answering no. In the electorate of Cowper, which I'm privileged to represent, some 95,800 voters completed the survey.”
I must say that, within the electorate of Cowper, the debate has been conducted in a very fair, reasonable and respectful way, with people with very strongly held views on both sides of this question treating each other appropriately. I think that's part of coming from the country.Luke Hartsuyker, Cowper MP
In his speech, Mr Hartsuyker also flagged his support for any amendments that would protect religious freedoms.
“There have been concerns in relation to the issue that the bill as currently drafted affords no protections to Christians who, for matters of conscience, would consider the provision of services [for] a same-sex marriage as making them complicit in an activity which contravenes their faith,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“I will be supporting a number of amendments which I believe will improve this bill. However, should the amendments fail, I will be voting yes in accordance with the commitments that I have made.”
Mr Hartsuyker also praised the civility of the debate on the Mid North Coast.
“I must say that, within the electorate of Cowper, the debate has been conducted in a very fair, reasonable and respectful way, with people with very strongly held views on both sides of this question treating each other appropriately. I think that's part of coming from the country.”