Equal Marriage Rights Rally

(Town Hall Square)

I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land and welcome you all to this Equal Marriage Rights National Day of Action Rally for 2011 here in Sydney Square.

This is the seventh rally calling for Equal Marriage Rights that I have supported since I became Lord Mayor in 2004 and I believe that now there are real grounds for hope.

Change is possible. In November last year the NSW Parliament voted for my bill to allow same sex couples to adopt. A few years ago, this would have been put in the "too hard" basket - along with same sex marriage. Indeed when I put adoption reform to Parliament in 2000 not one MP voted in support!

This time last year, both the Prime Minister and would be Prime Minister insisted that marriage can only be between a man and a woman - and their parties fell in behind them.

Now there are increasing signs that the Australian community may not agree. During the Federal election campaign, people outside the GLBT community began seriously talking about same sex marriage.

Who can forget the Vietnam veteran who asked - on national television - why his gay son could not marry the man he loved? Who can forget the Opposition Leader struggling and failing to provide a reasonable, compassionate answer?

Since the Federal election, we've had politicians expressing support for same sex marriage - including some cabinet ministers - and some MPs are seeking their electorate's views, following a vote in the House of Representatives calling upon them to do so. They are finding that their constituents are not vehemently opposed.

While these moves are encouraging, how long is it going to take? The eminent law professor, George Williams, says the states may be able to legislate for same sex marriage and that the states may not be limited by a narrow definition of marriage.

As Lord Mayor and MP I have done everything I can over a long period to provide support and recognition for committed same sex relationships. If I am re-elected as MP for Sydney, I will seek further advice about introducing a private member's Bill to achieve same sex marriage in NSW. However, the Federal Parliament must ultimately take action to ensure that all Australians can marry the partner of their choice. A state bill will be an interim measure.

So today's rally is a call to action - to keep up the momentum, to keep up the lobbying and to keep up the pressure. What you are demanding is fair and reasonable.

Every Australian who wants to make a life commitment to the person he/she loves should be able to do so. And have that commitment equally recognised and supported by the law. It is a simple unassailable case. It is what we expect in a fair, just, decent and compassionate society.