Plebiscite is ‘not worth it’

Loving family: Amanda Solomons and Simone Bateman with their daughter Stella. They would love to marry, but would prefer to wait for a free parliamentary vote, than go through a divisive plebiscite campaign.

Loving family: Amanda Solomons and Simone Bateman with their daughter Stella. They would love to marry, but would prefer to wait for a free parliamentary vote, than go through a divisive plebiscite campaign.

Leura couple Simone Bateman and Amanda Solomons have been together nine years and had their first baby, Stella, five months ago.

They would dearly love to marry, but would prefer to wait for a free parliamentary vote, than have unnecessary harm caused by a nasty and divisive plebiscite campaign.

They joined other members of the Blue Mountains gay community in welcoming Labor’s blocking of the Turnbull government’s same-sex marriage plebiscite bill last week.

“The plebiscite is just not worth it,” Ms Bateman said. “It’s going to harm people that are the most vulnerable in the community.

“It’s not okay for kids to hear that something is wrong with their families and for young queer kids to hear that something is wrong with them.”

The couple, who own the Rubyfruit Vegan Cafe and Bakery in Leura, enjoy living in the supportive, safe Mountains community, and would like to stand before family and friends and declare their love for each other.

Ms Bateman said to marry, “would mean our relationship was valued by our community as much as everybody else’s is.”

“Why should we settle for anything less than an equal right,” Ms Solomons said.

Peter Hackney, the co-convenor of the Blue Mountains gay and lesbian community group Pink Mountains, welcomed the ALP’s move.

“This plebiscite was never anything more than a cynical exercise to delay marriage equality. Unlike a referendum, a plebiscite isn't binding on the government, and there’d be no clear time frame for implementing marriage equality if the public voted ‘yes’,” he said.

“To those who say we need a plebiscite in order to change the Marriage Act, I’d ask: Where was the plebiscite in 2004 when the Marriage Act was changed to specifically exclude gay couples? We didn't need one then, so why do we need one now?”

Mr Hackney said gay couples were considered equal when it comes to tax, superannuation, and for Centrelink and Medicare purposes.

“The government can’t have it both ways: at the moment we’re only equal when it suits them.”

If the bill had passed, the public would have been asked in February to vote whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. Millions of taxpayer dollars would have been spent on the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns. 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he could "not in good conscience" support a public vote on same-sex marriage, because it was expensive, non-binding and would inflict untold harm on the gay community, especially children.

Labor has moved to have the bill redrafted, allowing Parliament a free vote.

- with SMH

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