Poignant gay speech

PERTH federal MP Tim Hammond made an emotional parliamentary speech on marriage equality, paying tribute to his late gay sister-in-law and the many Western Australians who spent decades fighting for change.

The marriage amendment was in front of the lower house this week and Mr Hammond said his views on the yes vote were formed by his late sister-in-law.

“Her name was Sharon. She was 42. She fundamentally formed my views in relation to why this should simply be a ‘yes’ vote. “Sharon was gay and she had a partner for 16 years. I could never possibly look Sharon in the eye and tell her that she didn’t have the same right to get married to her partner as I did to her sister. It was as simple as that.

• Tim Hammond delivers his speech on the marriage amendment in Parliament on Tuesday.

Freedom of choice

“I don’t know what Sharon would have done knowing that she could actually make her marriage a reality subsequent to the passing of this legislation. We will never know—she died some years ago, very young—but it’s not the point; the point is that she would have had the choice.

“That’s all this legislation seeks to achieve: the freedom of choice to ensure that Sharon’s relationship with her partner, as she then was, is held on equal footing with the relationship that I have with her sister.

“It’s as simple as that. I heartily endorse those who have spoken before me on this. The answer is simple: no amendments, no excuses and no more delays. Let’s just get on with it.”

Mr Hammond continued by paying tribute to the brave parliamentarians who’d fought for marriage equality down the years.

“The first is Brian Greig, a former Australian Democrats senator who stood up in the other place as an openly gay man in his first speech, in 1999, and foreshadowed the long and bitter fight ahead simply in the name of equality and to recognise the equality of the value of relationships, not only in relation to marriage but in many other areas of unfair and unjust sexual discrimination and discrimination based upon gender or sexuality. Brian Greig, we salute you.

“A former state member for Perth, John Hyde, was one of the first openly gay men in our state parliament.

“He made his maiden speech in 2001. John, this moment is for you and for all like you and Brian, who fought so hard, for so long, so long ago. That is what we’re here for.”

Mr Hammond said he was proud the seat of Perth lodged a 71.5 per cent yes vote.

The yes vote in WA was 63.7 per cent, second only to Victoria, which recorded 64.9 per cent.

Nationally, 61.6 per cent of respondents were in favour of marriage equality.

by DAVID BELL

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