Cr Ellis said that while the Marriage Act was a federal matter, the council could add weight to the movement for equality. "’Marriage equality’ has become shorthand for acceptance,” he said. “That's important for kids, especially in rural areas like Bass Coast. They need to know that ordinary people, with some prominence in the community, believe LGBTI lives have equal worth.”
Bass Coast’s stance echoes recent moves by other Victorian councils, including Cardinia, Surf Coast, Yarra and Darebin councils, to support marriage equality.
Cr Brett Tessari, who seconded the motion, said society needed to be more accepting of difference.
Cr Michael Whelan said the Marriage Act imposed a morality from another age on people in this era. “We need to get out of the way and let people live their lives.”
Cr Bruce Kent said the word marriage was an issue for some people. “But if we agree that people should have equality, that means employment, marriage and so on.”
The sole dissenter, Cr Julian Brown, said that if the federal government held a referendum with the same wording, he would probably support it. However, he felt the local community should be consulted first.
Cr Ellis said it was fitting that Bass Coast had shown its support for equality on the International Day against Homophobia.
“May 17 marks the date that homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization in 1990. The fact that we can sit here and discuss this matter is a measure of how far we've travelled!”
The council will inform federal MPs and the Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission of its support for marriage equality.
The council’s move has already attracted considerable media interest with reports on ABC Gippsland and Channel 9.
Congratulations to us: While she has no personal interest in being married, Sally Conning applauds the council's support for marriage equality.