BAYSWATER council has voted to publicly support marriage equality after an emotive debate split the chamber 5-4.
Cr Catherine Ehrhardt’s motion drew a lot of support from the public gallery at last Wednesday’s council meeting, including Maylands Labor MP Lisa Baker and her long-term female partner.
“We have been a couple for 28 years, and for 28 years we have not been permitted to marry,” Ms Baker told the gallery.
“The role of any council is to provide leadership and guidance with the community.”
The city will now write to the federal government urging a free vote in parliament to pass marriage equality — as opposed to a plebiscite which would be non-binding and cost around $160 million — and will lobby the Turnbull government to allow anyone to get married.
Federal Perth Labor MP Tim Hammond attended the council meeting and said his late sister-in-law, Sharon was gay and she “had a partner for 16 years, and personally I could never look Sharon in the eye and tell her she didn’t have the same right to be married to her partner as I did”.
Mr Hammond said councillors had a responsibility to represent their local wards but also to “play the role as leaders within their community”.
Several locals voiced support. Morley’s Sonia Green said: “equality is council business and leadership is council business, and looking after your citizens’ rights is council business. I want to know my council represents my interests as a ratepayer, as a person and as a community member.
“Not supporting the motion tonight means that Bayswater city council does not support the concept of equality, and that’s not Bayswater’s style.”
Bayswater residents’ association head Tony Green, was the only person in the gallery to speak against the motion.
“Do councillors really want to make a decision that may well alienate 98 per cent of ratepayers in the city who are not part of the two per cent of the gay community?” he said.
“Will councillors have to state their personal connections to the gay community as vested or trivial interests when they vote on this matter?”
Councillors Ehrhardt, Barry McKenna, Dan Bull, Stephanie Coates, and John Rifici voted for the motion, with councillors Cornish, Fleeton, Michelle Sutherland and Sally Palmer voting against. Bayswater became Australia’s 45th council to support marriage equality.
by DAVID BELL