Ballarat City Council has renewed its support for marriage equality following a divisive vote at its ordinary meeting on Wednesday night.
A packed public gallery attended more than an hour of debate before the motion to support equality was approved 5-3, with Cr Des Hudson absent from the meeting.
The vote also moved for council to write to state and federal MPs and the Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to express council’s support.
Equal Love Ballarat representative Kirsten Holden said the LGBTQI community in the municipality needed to know it had the support of local government.
”You are politicians and elected on the basis of representing your constituents,” she said.
“If our regional areas aren't in support of marriage equality it sends federal politicians a message that they don't need to be either.
“There are still so many that think I and LGBTQI love is not considered normal.
“To know that councillors would support my love is hugely comforting and empowering.”
Council first approved to support marriage equality in 2014, when a letter was also written to
A large number of community members also spoke against the motion.
Ratepayer Paul Harper said it was not an issue for local government.
“What business is it for council to stick their nose into it?” he said.
”You were not elected on a platform to propose this issue.
“It is a federal issue, and you haven't even asked our position on the matter.”
Before the original motion was debated, Cr Jim Rinaldi proposed a motion to not support marriage equality, which was seconded by Cr Grant Tillet.
However following the debate it was voted down 5-3.
Crs Daniel Moloney, Amy Johnson, Belinda Coates, Mark Harris and Samantha McIntosh voted against changing council’s support.
Cr Johnson said it would be a backwards step to take.
“A number of people have said here it is not local government business,” she said.
“I have to say I strongly disagree. I saw remarks made this week saying council's core business is road rates and rubbish, that is no longer accurate.
“One of the other responsibilities is to lobby other levels of government on behalf of residents.”
After the motion was voted down, the original motion to continue council’s support was moved again.
Councillors voted on the same lines of the first debate, with Crs Grant Tillet, Ben Taylor and Jim Rinaldi voting against it.
It means the motion was approved 5-3 in favour of continued support.