Statement by The Hon Gary Gray, AO MP
Special Minister of State
Mr GRAY (Brand—Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity) (16:15):
I rise in the chamber to discuss a matter of profound importance; marriage equality. My view on this issue has changed and I want to explain why.
We in this House, regardless of political convictions, colour or creed, all enter essentially with the same motivation: to improve the lives of people. For me, this means I work to the best of my ability to ensure every person I represent has an equal opportunity to participate fully in our society.
Over the years, both sides of politics have worked to rid our nation of discrimination in all its forms.
We do this for a fundamentally important reason; it is a common cause regardless of whatever else may from time to time divide our parliament.
Every Australian child should be able to dream and aspire to achieve their full potential. Every Australian child should know that who they are, where they come from, and what their sexual orientation is will not determine their ability to experience love, to live a full life and to prosper.
This, I believe, is a fundamental tenet of our society and it is why my view has changed, and why I wish to place my position on the record in this parliament.
Marriage is a union between two persons to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life; a decision to make a commitment to one person for the rest of your life.
Because it is enshrined in law, it is owned by us—society.
All Australians who decide to share their life with one person within the institution of marriage should be able to have that commitment recognised by law. Denying marriage to same-sex couples denies them that choice and I see no good reason to do that.
I support removing this discriminatory provision from the statute. However, I also think it important that in making such a change, we protect the important right of religious leaders to conduct marriage ceremonies in accordance with the tenets and beliefs of their own communities.
The evolution of my thoughts on this matter reflect that of many Australians.
I have met many groups of good people on both sides of this debate. I have also listened to my family and friends.
My wife of 21 years and my three sons have discussed this matter with me on many occasions. My eldest son in particular has spoken to me with a passion and a knowledge that would fill any father with immense pride.
His view—a view that I now share—is that this change will improve the lives of people and the lives of future generations.
Every Australian should have the right to love whom they want and every Australian should be able to marry who they love.
For those reasons, I have changed my view and I thank those people who have helped me come to that conclusion.
That conclusion is one that will bind my vote should this parliament determine those matters.