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AME Media Release: Labor MP accused of “Taking orders from Abbott” over Marriage Equality – Michael Danby “Not representing his electorate”

Michael Danby letter on Marriage Equality - April 11 2013


Labor MP accused of “Taking orders from Abbott” over Marriage Equality – Michael Danby “Not representing his electorate”

Australian Marriage Equality
Media Release
Tuesday April 16th 2013

Marriage equality advocates are furious that Melbourne Ports MP, Michael Danby, has again refused to declare unconditional support for the issue.

In a letter to constituents Mr Danby – a Labor MP who has a conscience vote on the issue – has said he will not vote for same-sex marriage until the Coalition allows a conscience vote.

Spokesperson for Melbourne Ports for Marriage Equality, Tony Pitman, said Mr Danby’s position is absurd.

“Michael Danby’s decision not to vote for marriage equality until Coalition members are given a free vote means he’s effectively taking orders from Tony Abbott.”

“Melbourne Ports voters should be very angry that their local MP is showing no leadership on this issue and is again side-stepping it.”

“Quite simply, he’s not representing the views of the vast majority of his electorate.”

Mr Danby was absent from the parliamentary vote on marriage equality in August last year, something which it has taken him almost nine months to explain despite repeated requests to do so from constituents.

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said Mr Danby is playing politics with an issue that is about people’s lives.

“Mr Danby should not be playing political games with an issue that directly affects many families in Melbourne Ports.”

“Making his vote conditional on something another party does shows a deep deficit of moral courage and leadership.”

“Either he is prepared to vote for marriage equality when it is next proposed or he is not.”

Mr Danby’s Liberal challenger in Melbourne Ports is Kevin Eckendahl who is a supporter of both marriage equality and a Liberal conscience vote on the issue.

In his letter to constituents Mr Danby wrote,

“I abstained from the vote on that bill (in August last year) because I did not think it fair that half the Parliament – the Labor Party – had a a free vote, while the other half – the Coalition parties – were ordered by the Leader Mr Abbott to vote against the bill. My position is that when the Parliament has a genuine free vote on a marriage equality bill…I will support such a bill.”

For more information contact Tony Pitman on 0431 150 788 or Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.

Statement from Aleph Melbourne in response to ACL Jim Wallace on Sunrise

Is it with extreme disappointment and dismay that a representative of an Australian religious organisation has invoked the name of one of the most feared people of the Holocaust, in comparison with a minority group who are campaigning for equal rights under Australian law.

Tens of thousands of homosexual men were murdered under the hand of Joseph Goebbels, alongside many millions of Jews and people from a variety of national identities and religious beliefs.  To be compared to this person, in the pursuit of equality and human rights is unconscionable.  It beggars belief that an individual with a respected career in the Australian Defence Force is incapable of comprehending the gravity and insensitivity of the words he uttered on national television.

As a support group representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from a Jewish background, the words of Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby hit our members and those in the community who share a similar identity with a double punch, and they continue to reverberate through the families and friends of these people and the communities they belong to.

There is no excuse for hate and intolerance of people on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Equal rights in marriage will only benefit the wider community and help show the commitment and love people in all relationships, irrespective of gender, express for each other.  All Australians will benefit from equal marriage rights.

It is time for the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, and the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, to stop listening to those who peddle hatred and intolerance, and start listening to those people who want equality and love.  It is only then that Australia will become a much better country and the political leaders can know that they have made a worthwhile contribution to the welfare of all Australians, now and into the future.

Michael Barnett.
Convenor, Aleph Melbourne.
June 7 2012.

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