The South Australia Parliament today voted down a private members’ bill for state-based same-sex marriage.
The bill, introduced by Member for Port Adelaide Dr Susan Close, was defeated on the voices. While five ALP members spoke in support of the bill, 13 members opposed it (10 liberal, one ALP and two independent members) because of the unconstitutionality of the bill, the importance of marriage being defined between a man and a woman and finally the importance of children being raised by a mother and father.
This is the third time in recent months that laws pushing for same-sex marriage have been rejected – the senate rejected a bill in June and Tasmanian Parliament rejected a bill in September last year.
Members spoke of how pastors and Christians had engaged them on the issue which shows the importance of the church’s participation in the democratic process. Liberal Member for Schubert Ivan Venning told parliament that the Lutheran church has been his “rock, wisdom and strength...I’ve had so much good advice and arguments by Lutheran pastors in my electorate. I thank them all very much for their support and confidence in me to stand here”.
Liberal Member for Waite, Martin Hamilton Smith, told parliament that whilst he isn’t a person of faith, he believes that people should not be demonised because of their faith. “This argument [that] if you are a Christian then you are wrong, old fashion....I completely reject that proposition. I would appeal to churches of any faith or denomination to be more vocal. Get out there and express your view as advocates,” he said.
Notably, Member for Newland and the only ALP Member to speak against the bill was Thomas Kenyon.
He told parliament he opposed the bill because of his belief in marriage. He referred to marriage existing before the establishment of Christianity or any organised religion and how it came from the recognition of a relationship between a man and a woman.
“This is a long standing social institution. The only real difference between that class of relationships and same-sex relationships is the ability to have children,” he said.
Independent Member for Mount Gambier Don Pegler spoke of the likelihood of a legal challenge to the bill if passed in law. He quoted Section 109 of the Australian Constitution which says if a law of a State is inconsistent with the law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.
Independent Member for Frome, Geoff Brock, spoke of the response he’s had from his electorate expressing concern about changing the law. He said he also had contact with many friends in same-sex relationships who haven’t asked him to support the bill.“At this stage, I haven’t been convinced of my need to vote for this bill,” he said.
In speaking out in support of the bill, Member for Napier, Michael O’Brien began his address to Parliament with an analogy about preventing blue-eyed people from getting married, suggesting it would induce scorn from people.
He told parliament that those who support heterosexual marriage do so on the basis of scripture, whereas science and reason are the “ammunition to our political battles”.
He referred to the benefits to the economy if same-sex marriage was legalised, using a utilitarian argument and believed there would be no harm to society.
“Opposition to marriage equality is the next great barrier that we must overcome,” he said.
A full record of how Members spoke on this issue in provided in a table below. You can also read the debate's Hansard by following this link.
If your local member spoke in support of marriage, you might consider sending them an email or letter to express your thanks.
Thanks to all who emailed their MPs. Your efforts made a difference.