Ballarat civil celebrant slams announcement of potential referendum on same-sex marriage

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By Michael Pollock Ballarat Courier

Aug. 12, 2015, 1:35 p.m.

Not impressed: Openly gay civil celebrant Ron Egeberg is far from satisfied with a potential referendum on same-sex marriage.

A Ballarat civil celebrant has described a potential referendum on same-sex marriage as “pointless”.

Ron Egeberg, an openly gay civil celebrant says Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s announcement that the Coalition will look at holding a referendum or plebiscite on same-sex marriage is unhelpful.

The Prime Minister’s olive branch to supporters of same-sex marriage followed from Coalition MPs rejecting a free vote on the issue in a marathon five and a half hour snap meeting on Tuesday night.

“A referendum is pointless as referenda are for dealing with constitutional matters, which this isn’t,” Mr Egeberg said.

“Same-sex marriage is not a constitutional matter – it’s a fundamental right and it’s about equality.

“A plebiscite is a delaying tactic.

“There is enough reliable evidence from a number of surveys that have been conducted over the past few years that 60 per cent to 70 per cent of Australians are in favour of same-sex marriage.”

Mr Egeberg said the decision by the Coalition has ensured the issue of same-sex marriage remains “state sanctioned discrimination” as well as “insulting and dismissive to gay people”.

“It’s insulting and dismissive to gay people to hear that there are more important issues than same-sex marriage; this issue is of fundamental importance to gay people as it will have a dramatic effect on their lives so that is why there is strong agitation for amendments to the Marriage Act to be passed now,” he said.

“Tony Abbott’s tactics of including the National Party in the party room to maximise the chances of a no conscience vote for same-sex marriage on the conservative side of politics was because he doesn’t want to see it get up under his watch.

“Abbott was obviously thinking the tide was changing in the Liberal Party and if members were given a conscience vote, there could be a majority who support marriage quality, which he no doubt thinks would undermine his authority given his opposition to it.”

Ballarat MP allarat MP Catherine King echoed Mr Egeberg’s sentiments regarding a plebiscite being used as a delaying tactic.

“I support marriage equality and think that it is time for the Australian Parliament to vote on this issue with all members to be accorded a free vote,” Ms King said.

 

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