Same-sex marriage debate: what the Illawarra’s federal MPs said

Illawarra politicians – Liberal and Labor – spoke on the same-sex marriage bill in parliament Tuesday night, delivering affirmations that they would vote yes to change the definition of marriage.

Long-time marriage equality advocate Stephen Jones began his speech recounting how his son would remember the "momentous occasion" when a resounding yes was delivered in the postal survey results on November 15.

The Whitlam MP told how his 10-year-old had excitedly called his “best mate Raff” on the morning of the results, to wish he and his mothers good luck and help settle their nerves.

He said the more than 61 per cent national vote in support of changing the definition of marriage “sent a powerful message to all families that they are not second class”, and would also ensure that his two young children could marry “who they fall in love with” regardless of whether they are straight or gay.

The speech was far from the first time Mr Jones has spoken on the issue: he has spoken out for marriage eqaulity since being elected to parliament seven years ago.

“[In 2010] I observed that the real objection to same-sex marriage was not to marriage itself but to the relationship, and I still think that's true,” he said on Tuesday.

He also noted that his subsequent bill, in 2012, was seen as “much more controversial” and was met with threats from within his own party and the wider community.

“[Those] threats of political reprisals have now turned into vocal support,” he said.

"I'll never forget being told that God would punish both me and my children for taking a stand in favour of marriage equality. Clearly this is not a god that I, or the majority of people of faith would recognise.”

Mr Jones also paid tribute to the many campaigners who had ensured that, in the future people would think of the passage of marriage equality laws were inevitable and easy

"This was neither,” he said, listing the names of people who had fought over years and decades to have the laws changed.

Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis told parliament that she had seen change in the way her Gilmore electorate thought about same-sex marriage, especially since 2013. 

She said she had a number of friends in a same-sex relationship, and others who objected due to religious reasons or "family tradition".

Ms Sudmalis confirmed she would vote yes after her electorate did the same in the postal survey, and spent much of her speech reading emails from Gilmore residents, which had "become more pleasant" in recent times.

She also named Dawn Hawkins, from the Gilmore marriage equality campaign, for helping to shift views so the majority 

"It is my deepest wish, that whatever our differences, we continue to respect each others' choices and live our lives according to our best collective principals and values,” she concluded.

Cunningham MP – and yes voter – Sharon Bird used her speech to acknowledge members of the Liberal Party and the Greens in the Illawarra who also supported a yes vote. 

Ms Bird said the bill was “well considered”, “well balanced” and “well overdue”, before quoting correspondence from a number of residents.

“I stand here as a member of this house who’s been married as an Australian and as someone who has been in a long, committed relationship where I choose not to be married,” she said.

“And I am so glad that gay and lesbian couples in Australia now have exactly the same choice, as they should as Australians.”

Ms Bird concluded by holding up a sign that said “Cunningham said yes”.

Mr Jones spoke at 7.16pm, Ms Sudmalis at 8.16pm and Ms Bird’s address began at 9.47pm.

STEPHEN JONES

Member for Whitlam (Labor)

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones

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ANN SUDMALIS 

Member for Gilmore (Liberal)

Ann Sudmalis

Ann Sudmalis

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SHARON BIRD

Member for Cunningham (Labor)

Sharon Bird

Sharon Bird

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