Chesters calls on government to allow free vote on same-sex marriage

In Parliament today, the Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters spoke against the Same-sex Marriage plebiscite and called on the Liberal Government to allow a free vote.

“My speech today was also an opportunity to restate my support for marriage equality and called on the Liberal Government to allow a free vote on the issue.

“I said in my remarks that pushing marriage equality off to a plebiscite is really misleading to the Australian people because the plebiscite is not binding on MPs. I also said that I understand the community outrage at spending $200 million on a public vote which will not change the Marriage Act.

“I strongly believe that Bendigo and Central Victorian constituents just want the Parliament to get on with marriage equality and they want their Parliamentarians to do the job that they were elected to do,” said Ms Chesters.

Ms Chesters told the Parliament how she is often stopped in the street by residents raising this issue in regards to their children and how some have told her that “I have three children. They are all in loving relationships. I can attend the wedding of two but not the third.”

“Across the Bendigo electorate, support for marriage equality has existed for quite some time. We are now at a stage where the vast majority of Australians—over 70 per cent—support same-sex marriage, marriage equality.

“It has become a very personal debate for so many, because this issue is personal,” said Ms Chesters.

Ms Chesters also said in her speech that ‘Marriage equality is personal. The right to be able not just to say 'I love you' but to commit to somebody under the Marriage Act should be afforded to all adults. It is an issue about equity before the law. This is about saying to a group of Australians: 'We won't discriminate against you anymore.'

In her speech Ms Chesters encourage the Central Victorian LGBTI community not to give up hope for marriage equality.

“To the LGBTI community in Bendigo I just want to say: 'Let's continue to stand together. Let's continue to rally and call for change.' This is one of those issues where through grassroots action, standing together and telling personal stories we will create change,” said Ms Chesters.

It’s expected the Liberal Government will use its numbers to pass the Plebiscite in the House of Representatives but Labor and the minor parties will vote against and block the bill in the Senate. Debate on this issue will return to Parliament House the next time parliament sits.