An Australian Senator Made A Powerful And Tearful Plea For Marriage Equality

"Discrimination to some demeans us all."

Earlier this month, the results of Australia's same-sex marriage postal vote were announced, and unsurprisingly the Australian public overwhelmingly voted to allow same-sex marriages to be legalized in their country. The announcement came after years of debate and infighting amongst Australian politicians, but now the country's government must decide whether a portion of the Australian Marriage Act should be reversed in order to legally permit same-sex unions.  The Senate voted in favor of marriage equality on Wednesday, and now, to become law, the bill must pass the lower house.

During debate in the Senate, Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who is a member of the Greens party and a longtime advocate of marriage equality, delivered a moving speech urging parliament to reform the Australian Marriage Act and formally legalize same-sex marriage. In a portion of her speech, Hanson-Young mentioned a man named Robert James "Bob" Brown. According to Upworthy, Brown was the first out gay legislator in Australia's parliament, and a staunch supporter of marriage equality.


Though he is no longer a member of parliament, Hanson-Young made it abundantly clear in her speech that she is dedicated to continuing his fight for same-sex marriage in Australia. "When Bob retired in 2012, I said to him 'Bob, I'm really sorry that we haven't been able to reverse that awful law before your time was up,'" she recalled, fighting back tears. "So today I stand here with my Greens colleagues, finishing the job that Bob Brown started."

"This parliament has come such a long way. Twenty bills have been introduced to reverse this awful law," Hanson-Young added, referring to the Australian Marriage Act, which recognizes only monogamous, heterosexual marriages. "Seven of them, embarrassingly so, in my name."

Given that the legalization of same-sex marriage is well within reach in Australia for the first time ever, it's easy to see why Hanson-Young was moved to tears in the midst of her impassioned plea. "Millions of Australians have fought for this reform to happen. Inquiries after inquiries, protesting on the street, meeting with members of parliament, lobbying in their workplaces and voting 'yes.' It is now time for the Senate to do our job, to get this done," she later explained during the floor speech, adding that "discrimination to some demeans us all."

Though a bill still needs to pass in Australia's lower house before same-sex marriage can officially be legalized, Hanson-Young is confident such a piece of legislation will sail through in the coming weeks.

In fact, soon after the results of the postal vote were made public, Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, made it clear he hopes to make same-sex marriage "the law of the land by Christmas."

"The Australian people have had their say, and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality," Turnbull declared. "They voted overwhelmingly for fairness, for commitment, for love, and now it's our job as the Australian parliament, all of us here, to get on with it and get this done before Christmas."

Should same-sex marriage officially be legalized in the coming weeks, Australia will no longer be one of the only developed countries that doesn't have marriage equality.


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