During the debate in Parliament last month over the same-sex marriage plebiscite, (which was voted down in the Senate on late Monday evening,) there were a number of MPs and senators who were willing to stand up for the right of Australian citizens to have a direct say in the definition of marriage. One of those representing the silent majority of Australia was Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks, who defended the need for the plebiscite.
The Hon. Lucy Wicks MP made it clear that the Australian people deserve a vote, since changing the definition of marriage has consequences for current and future generations:
What if for a moment, as part of this debate, we dared to think through other possible implications of a fundamental change to the definition of marriage? What if it were about more than ‘love’? What if it were also the question of a legacy for our children, our grandchildren and the generations that follow? What if we carefully thought through the implications of changing a social framework for families and the raising of children—our next generation?
Furthermore, she argues that the people of Australia deserve a full and frank discussion of the implications of a change to the law, in lieu of having it pushed through Parliament by people unwilling to consider the consequences for the citizens they purport to represent. She points out that a plebiscite upholds democracy and the values that flow from it.
In the name of deeply held Liberal views about true democracy, freedom and courage of our convictions, I believe we are, in fact, leaving a mark by being prepared to stand up for free speech and free thought and to be prepared to risk a outcome in order to encourage an open and democratic debate. If the Australian people vote yes in a plebiscite, marriage will be changed forever. But in doing so, the nation will have fully worked through the implications of such a fundamental change, rather than having this change foisted upon us because we were too frightened to broaden the debate in a respectful, considered way.
In the end, the debate about same-sex marriage encompasses so much more than just a change of definition. It has addressed a myriad of other topics which affect the people of Australia. It has called into question basic human rights such as freedom of belief, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.
The Hon. Lucy Wicks MP summed up her argument by quoting Paul Kelly of The Australian:
The consequences far transcend the definition of marriage itself. Same-sex marriage is provoking an upheaval about freedom of conscience, religious liberty and the norms that govern our democratic discourse.