“LOVE is not and should not be a basis for any legislation.”
That was Ballarat-based Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan’s response to debate on same-sex marriage reforms yesterday, arguing any change to the definition of marriage would undermine the social structure and empty marriage of real meaning.
The Senate voted against the private members bill sponsored by Labor backbenchers, by 41 votes to 26, a day after another bill was defeated in the House of Representatives.
“Marriage, in the legal sense, is not about recognising ‘love’. Nowhere in the Marriage Act is the word love even mentioned,” Senator Madigan said.
“The reason the state is involved in marriage is because it is a partnership with social consequences. Marriage is less about the rights of adults than about the rights and responsibilities those adults have towards children of the relationship.”
Senator Madigan defended parliamentarians, including National senators Barnaby Joyce and Ron Boswell, who attracted criticism for their opposition to reforms.
He said individuals had been vilified for expressing opinions by those who called for love and equality.
“The suggestions that by upholding the timeless institution of marriage we are somehow bigoted and narrow-minded is the epitome of the expression ‘the pot calling the kettle black’,” Senator Madigan said.
Ballarat MP Catherine King voted for the private members bill on Wednesday to allow same-sex marriage, having changed her view following a period of community consultation.
“I respect that there will be members of our community who disagree with how I voted, as well as members who agree,” Ms King said.
“As always with matters of conscience votes I hope that people will respect the decision I came to.”
Equal Love Campaign spokesperson Ali Hogg described Senator Madigan’s comments as “utterly offensive.”
“It is not uncommon for politicians on the far right to try and instil fear in the debate over social change,” she said.
“Some people get married because they love one another and others do it for the benefits it brings, but when it comes to the issue of children, this is another insult to same-sex couples who have been caring for kids for years.”
Ms Hogg said she was optimistic that legal recognition for same-sex marriage would happen in Australia.
“Clearly we are not going backwards on this issue and with a majority of Australian voters now in favour of same-sex marriage, it is about time the politicians got with the program.”