“There is nothing wrong with you.”
That’s the moving message Attorney-General George Brandis sent to young gay Australians today in a heartfelt speech supporting same-sex marriage in the Senate.
Brandis said the passage of the bill will “demolish the last significant bastion of legal discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality”.
“At last, Australia will no longer be insulting gay people by saying: different rules apply to you,” he said.
“After centuries of prejudice, discrimination, rejection and ridicule, (this bill) is both an expiation for past wrongs and a final act of acceptance and embrace.”
Brandis made historical references throughout the speech, starting with the South Australian push to decriminalise homosexuality, which began in 1972.
He also cited a 1989 essay by conservative writer Andrew Sullivan, Here Comes The Groom, saying: “It proved to be one of the most influential publications of the late 20th century, because it kicked off the gay marriage debate.”
“I want to reflect for a moment on the message this will send, in particular, to young gay people: to the boy or girl who senses a difference from their friends, which they find difficult to understand and impossible to deal with,” Brandis said.
“How many hundreds of thousands of young Australians have known that fear? How many have lived with it, silently and alone? How many have failed to come to terms with it and been overborne by it?
"We are saying to those vulnerable young people – there is nothing wrong with you. You are not unusual, you are not abnormal, you are just you," Attorney-general George Brandis tells the same-sex marriage debate. pic.twitter.com/SNv3Mn0SWX
— BuzzFeedOz Politics (@BuzzFeedOzPol) November 28, 2017
“By passing this bill, we are saying to those vulnerable young people: there is nothing wrong with you. You are not unusual. You are not abnormal. You are just you.
“There is nothing to be embarrassed about. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to hide. You are a normal person and, like every other normal person, you have a need to love.
“How you love is how God made you. Whom you love is for you to decide and others to respect.”
Brandis described November 15, the day it was revealed Australians had voted a resounding “Yes” for marriage equality, as a triumphant and joyous day.
Dozens of senators have spoken on Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage legislation, as contentious amendments are also considered.
On Tuesday afternoon the first amendments to be considered – one protecting civil celebrants who conscientiously object to same-sex marriage and another to create a separate section for man-woman marriages and two-person marriages – have been soundly defeated, 41 against to 24 in favour.