Canberra is being promoted as Australia’s ‘‘city of love’’ as the territory’s Labor Party unites to support Kevin Rudd’s new push on same-sex marriage.
The ALP rallied its supporters in Canberra on Tuesday to step up the campaign following the Prime Minister’s promise that, if elected, he would introduce marriage equality legislation in the first 100 days of Parliament.
Following Mr Rudd’s announcement, the ACT government will hold off introducing its own bill until after the election.
Census results released earlier this year to mark Canberra’s centenary showed the ACT has the highest proportion of same-sex couples of any state or territory – 1.1per cent of all couples – with NSW next on 0.8per cent.
Ivan Hinton, deputy national director of Australian Marriage Equality, said Australians were now looking to Canberra’s lead.
‘‘[They] look to Canberra, look to Canberra’s community, look to Canberra’s leadership, look to Canberra’s politicians, because what we have here now is a monumental shift, an historic shift,’’ he told the rally in Civic Square.
‘‘We now have ... the first prime minister in Australia history to support publicly marriage equality. I’d like to commend ACT Labor for pursuing Canberra’s new title of Australia’s city of love.’’
Deputy ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who is openly gay, said the journey of law reform in the ACT went back to 1994, when the Follett Labor government became the first jurisdiction in Australia to recognise same-sex relationships.
Equal Love spokeswoman Jo Kamira told the rally her son’s grandparents were not allowed to get married in the early part of last century because one was white and the other Koori. ‘‘We look at that now and say how could that happen,’’ she said.
‘‘Today we are going to look back and say, marriage equality, how did we not let this happen, how did it become an issue that we had to fight?
‘‘As the proud mother of a gay son, I want the same rights for him to enjoy that his sister, who is here representing her brother, enjoys as well.’’
The rally was attended by the territory’s three federal Labor MPs – Kate Lundy, Andrew Leigh and Gai Brodtmann.
Ms Brodtmann said the issue revolved around ending discrimination.
‘‘As the proud godmother of Alice Rose, who is the product of my sister-in-law and her gay partnership, it is a great pleasure to be here today, and also to have voted on the marriage equality bill last year,’’ she told the crowd.
‘‘It is in her honour and her parents’ honour that I did so. It’s all about equality, it’s all about ending discrimination, it’s all about equality before the law for all.’’
Dr Leigh said Martin Luther King’s ‘‘I have a dream’’ speech made reference to African Americans wanting to cash a promissory note for equality.
‘‘Gay and lesbian Australians come to Parliament with their own promissory note: that they too should be treated as equal like all Australians,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s time for us to cash that. It’s time for us to give gay and lesbian Australians the same rights to marriage equality.’’