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Gay marriage still up in the air

NATIONAL: A cross-party parliamentary committee has not adopted a position on whether to recommend same-sex marriage, after examining to two bills in favour of changing the marriage act.

The House of Representatives social policy and legal affairs committee tabled its report into two private members bills in parliament on Monday, saying its aim was to study the effectiveness of each bill.

“It was not an inquiry to determine the merits of same-sex marriage,” the report conclusion says.

“It is for the parliament to determine the passage of the bill and this report aims to inform the parliament in its debate on the text and outcome of each bill.”

Committee chairman Graham Perrett, a supporter of same-sex marriage, told parliament Australians have been ahead of the world in removing many forms of discrimination.

“It’s undefendable and unjust that two people who love each other are unable to marry each other because of their sexual orientation,” he said.

“The love between same-sex couples is no different.”

Parliamentarians had a “duty to lead” and remove this final vestige of discrimination.

Mr Perrett said marriage was the best way to protect every committed monogamous relationship.

Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt told parliament the public was “ready for change.”

The committee received a record 276,000 responses during its inquiry.

He said nearly two-thirds were in support of gay marriage.

“It should be done not just because it’s popular but because it is right,” Mr Bandt said.

Mr Perrett said Australian laws must reflect the views and values of its people today.

“It is timely for me to remind everyone that God did not write the Marriage Act,” he said.

“It was written by lawyers and legislators in ink not stone.”

The Labor MP quoted Australian rugby captain David Pocock as saying that marriage should not be used as a weapon to promote prejudice.

Mr Perrett said Australians looked back in disbelief at history when Indigenous Australians were not allowed to vote in their own country.

He encouraged all MPs to read the report before voting on the issue in parliament.

Mr Bandt said the change would not just affect same-sex couples who wanted to celebrate their love but the younger generations growing up.

“It’s significant for the young boy in the country town who is working out who he is attracted to,” he said.

“Or the girl at high school who wants to take her female partner to the formal and is told she is not allowed to do it.”

Opposition MPs on the committee disagreed with the inquiry’s findings.

Liberal backbencher Sharman Stone said she was not persuaded the definition of marriage should be changed.

“It is widely accepted that there are certain customs and practices in any society that are unique to certain relationships,” she said in the report.

Liberal backbencher Ross Vasta said the coalition did not support passing the changes because it would mean breaking a commitment the opposition made to the Australian people at the last federal election.

The Australian Marriage Equality says it is glad the committee rejected the concept of civil unions.

“There’s still a lot of work ahead but same sex couples know that a majority of Australians are on their side,” national convener Alex Greenwich told AAP.

“Once MPs realise they have nothing to fear from this reform, we are confident more will open their hearts and minds to the importance of marriage equality.”

AAP

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