Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has emotionally dedicated a speech on same-sex marriage to a gay childhood friend and other LGBTI young people around the country.
“In my small high school, one of my best friends was gay, and he struggled for a long time,” she said.
“I remember thinking I never did quite enough to have his back. He was one of my best friends and we’d hang out, and every now and again I’d tell people to bugger off when they tried to pick on him.
“But it didn’t feel like it was enough. It was, ‘That’s the way you are, so that’s the way people are going to treat you.’
“Young people in Australia deserve better than that.
“The “Yes” vote two weeks ago was so important for sending a message to these young people, just like Jonathan, right around the country.”
The Senate is aiming to pass legislation for marriage equality this week after the “yes” vote in the postal survey announced on November 15.
In her speech on Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill, Senator Hanson-Young paid tribute to the “millions of Australians” who have fought for marriage equality for more than a decade.
“Inquiry after inquiry, protesting in the street, meeting with members of parliament, lobbying in their workplaces, and voting ‘yes’,” she said.
Senator Hanson-Young described the day in June 2013 that former Queensland Liberal senator Sue Boyce broke ranks to vote for same-sex marriage legislation as a “turning point.”
“[She] decided to do what was right and become the first Liberal in this place to cross the floor,” she said.
“I hope today that Sue is very proud of what she did, because it was an important break in the rhetoric of the debate that reform couldn’t happen. Well, it can, it must and it is.
“We now have this bill before us from Senator Dean Smith, which is a fantastic demonstration of progress and how fighting for what is right will eventually win.”
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) November 27, 2017
Senator Hanson-Young, whose name was on seven of the twenty same-sex marriage bills that have been introduced to parliament in the last decade, said the reform was important because “discrimination against some demeans us all.”
“People who had fought for this for so long were vindicated [by the “yes” vote]. The nation repaired its broken heart that was damaged by former prime minister John Howard’s bill,” she said.
“It’s now time for the Senate to do our job and get this done, without the muddying of the waters of those who have always been opposed to equal love.”
More than a dozen other senators are set to speak on Senator Smith’s bill.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delayed the House of Representatives sitting that was due to start on Monday to allow the Senate more time to debate – and ultimately pass – same-sex marriage legislation.