ALBURY Council last night voted to publicly support same-sex marriage.
Councillors voted 5-4 at last night’s council meeting, much to the delight of more than 30 gay and lesbian supporters in the gallery.
The two-part motion will also see the council write to state member for Albury Greg Aplin and federal member for Farrer Sussan Ley advising them of the council’s support.
The council suspended standing orders before deciding the motion, meaning councillors could speak any number of times and debate could be full, open and frank.
Councillor Ross Jackson told the council last night he had been asked to table the motion by advocates of equal rights to make sure everyone was treated fairly.
“The motion tonight is simply about equality, it’s about ending discrimination that exists within our community,” Cr Jackson said.
“It’s about changing law and given rights. It’s not about religion or anything to do with that.
“Australia is a free country and with that freedom should encompass all of our citizens.”
Cr Jackson said he had been asked in the past week whether it was an issue for local government.
“I reflect to section 232 of the local government act, which states that the role of a councillor as an elected person is to provide leadership and guidance to the community,” he said.
Cr Jackson also raised statistics that revealed 62 per cent of Australians do not have an issue with same-sex marriages and 75 per cent of those surveyed believed reform was inevitable.
“Last year England passed a bill to allow same-sex marriages and in April this year New Zealand followed suit,” he said.
“From 1996 to 2011, the number of same-sex couples tripled.
“This, I believe, shows that communities are more active and open about the status of their relationship.”
Councillors who spoke against the motion were Cr Henk van de Ven, Cr Patricia Gould, Cr Alice Glachan and Cr Graham Docksey.
Cr David Thurley took the rare opportunity to speak twice during the debate.
Cr Thurley first took the opportunity to address comments raised on various social media sites in regards to the motion.
He pointed at comments made stating that it was nothing to do with local government and it should be left to the federal government.
“Our politicians at both state and federal level have to get their views and opinions from somewhere and they might as well hear them from us if we are listening to the community,” Cr Thurley said.
“As far as I am concerned it is something to do with local government.
“In our way it’s only a symbolic act, we have no power to change the law, but it is telling people what we feel.”
Cr Glachan said she had “immense sympathy for the cause but not the means”.
“Many people have made it clear to me that they don’t agree that this is the appropriate forum,” she said.
“I also do not believe that this is the appropriate forum.
“We as councillors were elected to local government, we weren’t elected to federal Parliament, which is the rightful place for this.”
Mayor Kevin Mack said the issue of marriage equality was about fairness and equality for all.
“We need to stand as one and support this motion and not deny people the basic human right to be together as one,” he said.
“Our role is not to judge others, but to be progressive and move this community into the 21st century.”
Members of the Border’s gay and lesbian support service Hume Phoenix were thrilled with the outcome.
Female convenor Toni Johnson was in the chamber for the vote and said she couldn’t be any happier.