Today NSW Parliament sent a strong message of support for marriage equality. The Greens are proud to have always stood for marriage equality; every vote, every MP, every time.
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) [4.55 p.m.]: I also thank the member for Sydney for bringing this priority motion to the attention of the House. It is encouraging to see a brief moment of unity in the House on this issue of marriage equality, celebrating love in our communities and ending discrimination in our laws. Marriage equality is an important issue. I note the contribution of the member for Coogee in which he said, "I think it is pretty clear that the community has moved on." Perhaps the community was never opposed to this celebration of marriage between two consenting adults who chose to celebrate their love.
Back in the dark days of our laws, there was an amendment that chose to exclude certain people from celebrating their love in the form of marriage. That is a dark and sad period in our history. I hope it is a period on which we can look back and say, "That period is now over, because we can celebrate love and we recognise that all people can have their relationships recognised in the Marriage Act." It is my hope that we see that soon. Sarah Hanson-Young, The Greens senator, said she would like to see a number of marriages as spring is in the air. I think we are all hoping to see something sooner rather than later when it comes to marriage equality.
I recognise the politics of this situation and the reason we are talking about a free vote and calling for a respectful debate. I will touch briefly on both those issues. The Greens do not need a free vote, because to us this is an issue of equality. When it comes to equality we say that every member of Parliament should vote for equality and against discrimination. As representatives of the people our principled position should be not to entrench discrimination but to remove discrimination from our laws. We must consider the damage that having discrimination in our laws can do to individuals who suffer intolerance and abuse in our community.
We must consider the message we send to the schoolyards, to rural and regional communities and to other isolated areas of our community that may not be so tolerant when we say that discrimination is okay in our laws. Members in this place have been able to change their position. Earlier this year we witnessed the immaculate conversion of the Leader of the Opposition on marriage equality. We have seen shifts and changes in people's views, and those views must be encouraged. I hope that in a short time our parliamentary colleagues change their views, support marriage equality and stand up for love in our society.