By ROBIN WILLIAMS
THE day after dozens of same-sex couples took part in ceremonies in the Australian Capital Territory a move by a Victorian senator to have the question of same-sex marriage put to a referendum was defeated.
Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan gave notice on December 4 of his intention to move for a referendum on marriage laws and whether they should be a Commonwealth only decision and only between a man and a woman.
The Commonwealth Government had already challenged the validity of the ACT’s Marriage Equality Same Sex Marriage Act 2013 passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly in late October taking the matter to the High Court. The High Court however reserved its decision until December 12 almost a week after the ACT law was enacted on Saturday December 7.
With 47 same-sex couples having filed paper to take advantage of the new law, the first same-sex ceremonies began taking place from 12.01 am on Saturday, December 7.
Ballarat-based Senator Madigan, who grew up in a Catholic family in Hepburn, believes “that any decision on something as vital to the structure of society as marriage should be made by the people, not the parliamentarians”.
“And the only way to do that is by a referendum,” he said.
Senator Madigan said it was not up to a state or territory to fundamentally change the definition of marriage.
“It is also not up to a state or territory to interfere in federal legislation,” he said. “Marriage has always been between a man and a woman.
“Anything that will change such a fundamental cornerstone of society needs to be treated with extreme caution.
“Let’s put it to a vote of the people. There is nothing more democratic than that.”