Comments from Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) during last week’s debate on same-sex marriage in New South Wales Legislative Council, which was defeated by a margin of 21 votes to 19, shows grassroots activism played a part in the vote.

Many MLCs spoke to the bill. The Nationals Richard Colless told the parliament that while he had received almost 4,000 emails opposing the bill he had only received 500 emails from constituents asking him to support the change.

Mr Colless also quote a legal opinion commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby and provided by Neville Rochow SC and F C Brohier and other legal experts which highlighted significant technical flaws in the legislation.

Labor MLC Greg Donnelly defended the right of members to approach the marriage debate from a religious standpoint.

“Just because a person holds religious convictions to assist them in forming opinions—indeed, their conscience—does not lead to the conclusion that their position is suspect and should be discounted or dismissed out of hand,” he said.

Prior to the parliamentary debate, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced he would not support a state-based marriage bill, despite being a supporter of same-sex marriage. Christian Democratic Party Leader Fred Nile said he had urged Mr O’Farrell to make his position known publicly. Rev Nile said the Premier’s announcement was the decisive moment in the debate.

“It certainly had an effect on some Coalition members and that was the reason I asked him to issue the statement,” Mr Nile said.

The bill’s defeat in the Legislative Council means it will not proceed to the lower house.

Hansard of the two-day debate can be viewed via these two links below.

Day 1

Day 2

How each MLC voted


Jan Barham (Grn), Jeremy Buckingham (Grn), Sophie Cotsis (ALP), Catherine Cusack (Lib), Mehreen Faruqi (Grn), Amanda Fazio (ALP), John Kaye (Grn), Trevor Khan (Nat), Sarah Mitchell (Nat), Greg Pearce (Lib), Peter Primrose (ALP), Adam Searle (ALP), Walt Secord (ALP), Penny Sharpe (ALP), David Shoebridge (Grn), Mick Veitch (ALP), Lynda Voltz (ALP), Helen Westwood (ALP), Steve Whan (ALP)


Niall Blair (Nat), Robert Borsak (Shooters), Robert Brown (Shooters), David Clarke (Lib), Richard Colless (Nat), Greg Donnelly (ALP), Marie Ficarra (Lib), Luke Foley (ALP), Michael Gallacher (Lib), Jenny Gardiner (Nat), Duncan Gay (Nat), Paul Green (CDP), Charlie Lynn (Lib), Scot MacDonald (Lib), Natasha Maclaren-Jones (Lib), Matthew Mason-Cox (Lib), Shaoquett Moselmane (ALP), Fred Nile (CDP), Melinda Pavey (Nat), Peter Phelps (Lib), Ernest Wong (ALP)

The Liberals' John Ajaka abstained from voting.