Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the plebiscite on same sex marriage, including questions on the process and why people should have a vote. I spoke to the team at Hot 91.1 about these issues – feel free to listen here.
I support the proposition that all people should be free to choose their life partner; regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Nobody should be discriminated against legally or socially on such grounds.
I also support the current Plebiscite policy because: i) it means the view of each Australian on the issue of same sex marriage is treated equally rather than putting politicians ahead of the people; ii) by virtue of reflecting the will of the people, the ultimate outcome will have the greatest legitimacy; and iii) experience around the world tells us that a public vote on the matter creates greater social cohesion as opposed to a parliamentary vote alone. We have to remember that same sex marriage is a social and cultural issue as much as a legal one and thus we need to maximise public engagement in order to truly resolve the matter and move on. I’ve been making these points for some time while advocating in support of a Plebiscite – for example, please feel free to read my speech to Parliament from last year here http://www.tedobrien.com.au/speech/12th-october-2016-bill-same-sex-marriage-plebiscite).
As for me, my role as a Federal MP is to promote the process that empowers people to have their say in the Plebiscite. Once Australians have had their say, my role then becomes one of honouring their expressed views. That is, if the Plebiscite delivers a ‘yes’ vote above 50% nationally, I will support a bill for same sex marriage in the Parliament. If it does not deliver such a result, I will not support a bill for same sex marriage. In other words, I believe in letting the people decide and respecting and honouring their will.
On the issue of religious freedom, I wish to see religious freedoms protected. I believe this is a matter the Parliament should be able to successfully address if the Plebiscite delivers a majority ‘yes’ result, either in the process of drafting and debating the final same sex marriage bill or by other supplementary legislative action. In other words, I believe religious freedoms are a vital part of the Australian way of life that need to be protected and this is a matter to be duly considered and acted upon by the Parliament in the event of a change to the Marriage Act in favour of same sex marriage.
I urge as many people as possible, regardless if they vote yes or no, to have their say by voting in the plebiscite.