Marriage Equality Rally, Hyde Park North

(12.15pm, 3 December 2011, Hyde Park North)

I acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders, and also to acknowledge the 200 nationalities who live in our city. I also acknowledge that the largest GLBT community in Australia is living in our city.

On 7 November, the City Council gave its unanimous support to today's rally.

This rally's aim was to influence the delegates attending the Labor Party's National Conference. How ironic that the ALP conference is meeting on the 39th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam Government - a Labor Government that was not afraid to tackle issues of equality relating to women or our Aboriginal people.

How cynical then that the conscience vote is now being used as a ploy to prevent reform going through - I urge you to keep lobbying the ALP hard and also lobby the Coalition - they are not expelled if they cross the floor.

Australians from all walks of life have publicly supported change and a large number of Australians now refuse to accept that the current discriminatory definition of marriage is carved in stone.

This definition is the work of a 19th Century judge, Lord Penzance, who was deciding an 1866 polygamy case. It is a legal ruling, and like many legal rulings, it can be overturned or updated with new information and new evidence.

We have moved on in the past 150 years. When Lord Penzance made his ruling, child labour was the norm, people were locked away in debtors' prisons and women had virtually no legal rights.

We no longer send children down the mines or up chimneys. We don't lock up people because they can't pay off their credit cards. And women now occupy the highest offices in the land.

Yet national leaders up till now have kept marriage locked in C19th paradigm.

They believe that marriage will be protected by denying same sex couples the right to marry. That is like the illogical claim last century that women had to be denied the vote to protect democracy.

Our Federal parliamentarians need to legislate for the 21st Century.

Many gay and lesbian couples have loving, caring and life lasting relationships. As a society we should value and support these relationships.

And I wish you strength to your campaign which I strongly support.

I want to finish with Elliott Wilshier's words in the SMH today: "we dropped "gay" from Mardi Gras, let's drop "straight" from marriage!"