News National The promises broken and promises kept after same-sex marriage bill

The promises broken and promises kept after same-sex marriage bill

After saying he would support the change to marriage laws, Tony Abbott abstained from the vote. Photo: AAP
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When marriage equality legislation passed the lower house on Thursday, it was the culmination of well over a decade of concerted campaigning on the issue.

The lead-up to that day, via the much-maligned but ultimately successful non-binding postal survey, inspired many grand promises along the way – some more outlandish than others.

Perhaps most bizarre was the vow by married Canberra couple Nick and Sarah Jensen, who told the Canberra City News in 2015, their 10th anniversary year, that despite being deeply in love, they would divorce if gay couples got the same right.

“We believe marriage is not a human invention,” Mr Jensen said at the time.

“It is a sacred institution, ordained by God … Any attempt to change the definition of marriage by law is not something in which we are able to partake,” he added.

Roundly mocked on social media, the couple was quiet following the ABS announcement of the November 15 survey result that returned a 61.6 per cent ‘Yes’ result, with all states and territories and 133 of 150 electorates voting ‘Yes’.

Mr Jensen later released a statement to saying: “My previous public comments regarding civil divorce never envisaged me separating from my wife, but rather our marriage from the state.

“The legislation currently makes it untenable for us to do this under the law. The point we were highlighting and that still stands, however, is the fact that a redefinition of marriage changes the agreement under which we were originally married. We will be making no further comment.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who first mooted the idea of a plebiscite to determine public support for same-sex marriage, also in 2015, committed to respecting the will of the Australian people.

However, despite his electorate returning a 75 per cent ‘Yes’ vote, Mr Abbot left the House of Representatives chamber before the vote took place, effectively abstaining from the vote.

Mr Abbott’s office was contacted for comment on why he did not fulfil his promise, but The New Daily received no response.

It wasn’t just the ‘No’ side making big promises. Superstar DJ, producer and songwriter Calvin Harris struck an unusual bargain with Adelaide DJ Filip Odzak during the 2012 Stereosonic tour, agreeing to remix Spice Girls hit 2 Become 1 if marriage equality were to become a reality in Australia.

So far Harris has yet to comment on the promise, which has been taken up again on Twitter by Odzak, sparking a social media whirlwind of support. The New Daily sought comment from Harris’ management, but none was returned by deadline.

The Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, a prominent ‘Yes’ supporter,  will stick to her promise to waive venue hire fees for same-sex couples to hold wedding functions at City of Sydney parks and venues for a 100-day period. Details are to be finalised after a council meeting on Monday.

“It’s truly wonderful that we finally have marriage equality in Australia,” Ms Moore told The New Daily.

“Many people fought long and hard for this result, and while I am disappointed the federal government put our LGBTI community through a divisive and expensive postal survey instead of simply doing their jobs and passing legislation, I am glad we are finally here.”

She added the free venue hire move was “a gesture in the spirit of celebration for a group who have been discriminated against far too long”.

Adelaide City Council promised a similar gesture of goodwill, waiving the site fees for all wedding ceremonies in the city’s parklands and squares, though the move will apply to all couples seeking to get married, whether same-sex or not.

Lord Mayor of Adelaide Martin Haese told The New Daily: “Waiving site fees is a way that we can celebrate that anyone in Australia can now be married under Australian law. Marriage is about love and commitment and we want to welcome everyone who wants to get married into our parklands and squares.”

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