The ACT government’s same-sex marriage legislation can ‘‘open the floodgates’’ for Australia, but rugby union star David Pocock is still refusing to seal his own relationship legally until all his gay friends around the country are afforded the same right.
Wallabies and ACT Brumbies player Pocock and his partner Emma Palandri pledged in 2011 to not get married until same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia.
The ACT Legislative Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday to establish Australia’s first same-sex marriage scheme.
The federal government is challenging the bill in the High Court and there is a directions hearing on Friday after the Abbott government launched a constitutional challenge.
Pocock was at a function on Tuesday night to celebrate the bill being passed.
‘‘[Emma and I] are happy to wait. I’ve got family in Queensland, Emma’s got family in Western Australia,’’ Pocock said.
‘‘I’m very proud to be a Canberran and see what’s happening here, but I think this has to encompass all of Australia.
‘‘I think the tide has turned. [Prime Minister] Tony Abbott and other people who are opposing it are going to be on the wrong side of history.
‘‘I don’t see the logic in excluding people from making loving commitments to each other. So we’ll have to wait and see.’’
The ACT was dubbed the ‘‘rainbow territory’’ and ‘‘city of love’’ on Tuesday as the Legislative Assembly created history with its new bill.
The marriage equality law was approved by eight votes to seven. Under the law, same-sex couples from across Australia will be able to marry in Canberra by the end of the year.
Pocock has been a longtime advocate for marriage equality.
He plays rugby for the Wallabies and the Brumbies and is regarded as one of the world’s best players.
But he has strong beliefs on issues outside of sport and isn't afraid to put his personal views across to help garner support.
He is pro carbon tax, has made a personal stand in support of same-sex marriage and formed a not-for profit organisation to address the political injustice in his country of origin, Zimbabwe. Pocock and Ms Palandri committed their lives to each other at an informal ceremony in Perth in 2010.
But they will wait until their same-sex couple friends can get married before they do the same.
‘‘I was there on Tuesday night, I was really excited about it. To feel the energy in the room is such a powerful thing when you’re making those steps to a more equitable society,’’ Pocock said.
‘‘We've seen it [same-sex marriage laws] in New Zealand and the energy it has brought to them ... the sky hasn’t fallen.
‘‘Some of the ridiculous things that different factions in politics talk about is just nonsense. This is great leadership by the ACT government, we’ll wait and see for the next step.
‘‘It’s brilliant, hopefully other states follow. Whether they wait for the High Court to see if there are loopholes ... if it gets upheld, it will be just an absolute opening of the floodgates for the nation to move forward.’’
Pocock is 25 and has played eight seasons of Super Rugby.
He injured his knee just three games into his first season with the Brumbies and needed a reconstruction after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.