The state that might become the second Australian jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriage did not vote on a bill to achieve that today, postponing further debate until 14 November.
Openly lesbian Labor Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) Penny Sharpe introduced her bill in the parliament around 10am today and was the first to speak to it.
‘It is with great pride that I introduce the NSW Same Sex Marriage Bill 2013 on behalf of the NSW Cross Party Group for Marriage Equality,’ Sharpe told the Legislative Council.
‘I am pleased to do so because I believe, as I have always believed, that equality before the law is a basic right of every citizen that no government can or should legitimately deny. It is time, it is past time, for our Parliaments to remove the last vestiges of discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens.
‘It is past time for our laws to reflect the reality that all the residents of NSW are entitled to the same rights, and are equally valued. The right to marry is not just about the legal entitlements and responsibilities that recognized partnerships produce.
‘The decision to share your life, your future, your good fortune and your hard times, with someone else, is one of the bravest, the most challenging, and the most important decision that any of us will make. It is an intensely personal and an incredibly significant decision.
‘And no Australian should be told by their government that their choice is less worthy, their commitment less enduring, their relationship less valid, simply because the person they love is the same gender as they are.’
Nationals MLC Niall Blair spoke against the bill but fellow Nationals MLC Trevor Khan spoke in favor of it.
Liberal Party MLC Peter Phelps told the parliament he wanted government to get out of the business of marriage altogether while fellow Liberal Marie Ficarra opposed the bill.
Christian Democrats leader the Rev. Fred Nile, a perennial opponent of LGBT rights in NSW, stated his utter opposition to the bill.
Debate was adjourned around 1 o’clock and scheduled to resume 14 November.
Many MLC’s were not present during the debate and it remains unclear whether the bill will pass considering the number of seats the NSW Labor Party lost at the last state election.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has said government lawmakers may vote with their consciences on the bill but he has said he will personally vote against it if it comes to the Lower House despite supporting allowing same-sex marriage at a national level.