THE public gallery erupted in cheers as Bayswater council moved to lobby Federal Government in support of marriage equality last night.
In a 5-4 vote, council moved to publicly support marriage equality irrespective of sex or gender identity, acknowledged many people in the area were disadvantaged by the current law and would write to all Federal politicians to advise council’s support.
Fremantle council passed also a similar motion last night; making the two councils the 45th and 46th councils across Australia to make the move.
Councillor Catherine Ehrhardt, who put the motion forward, said it was council’s role to provide leadership and guidance to the community according to the Local Government Act.
“By publically supporting marriage equality, we’re advocating for the civil rights of our residents and ratepayers,” she said.
“This in no way detracts from the rights of the straight community.”
Mayor Barry McKenna called on the Federal Government to make a decision and host a conscious vote on the issue.
“I’ve got to be incredibly honest with the gay community: I don’t care, you can do what you like and I think you’re being discriminated against for not being able to get married… it’s your right,” he said.
“Like many countries in the world: let’s get on with it.”
Federal MHR Tim Hammond and Maylands MLA Lisa Baker threw their support behind council’s approval of marriage equality during public question time and called on them to provide leadership and guidance to the community.
Ms Baker has been with her partner for 28 years and was not permitted to marry.
She said polls showed 70 to 85 per cent of WA people did not care about marriage equality legislation passing.
Cr Dan Bull said marriage equality should be a human right and showed his support by wearing an incomplete acceptance ring, part of an Airbnb campaign, to the meeting.
However, Cr Brent Fleeton said there had been no petition, no submission to the Federal Government and no community consultation on the matter.
“I don’t believe councils are here to push an agenda on a national stage… if this goes through, what’s stopping the medical marijuana lobby rocking up and asking us to take a position on that,” he said.
“This has been done on the sly and you are not treating this local government with respect.”
Bayswater City Residents Association Tony Green said the move could alienate 98 per cent of ratepayers who were not part of the gay community.
“Will councillors have to state their personal connection to the gay community, as vested or trivial interests?” he said.
“When will council realise that social matters such as this are not their responsibility even when pushed by a very vocal and tiny minority?”
Crs Fleeton, Sally Palmer, Chris Cornish and Michelle Sutherland voted against the motion.