DESPITE the tide turning in the Nationals party room on marriage equality, member for Riverina Michael McCormack is standing firm in his opposition to same-sex couples being allowed to marry.
Three federal Nationals MPs – including a senior minister – have come out and declared their support for same-sex marriage this week, being the first from the party to do so at a federal level.
Victorian MP Darren Chester, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, was the first to declare his hand on Tuesday before Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and NSW backbencher Kevin Hogan came out in support of marriage equality later in the week.
However, when asked if he was planning to change his position in light of the shift in the party room, Mr McCormack said he remained firm in his belief that marriage was between a man and a woman.
“I believe in the traditional marriage of a man and a woman, but I’m always happy to listen to views within the electorate,” Mr McCormack said.
“I do think whilst there has been a softening of views on same-sex marriage, I still believe the electorate is in favour of traditional marriage and the way the Marriage Act is worded now.”
However, Mr McCormack reiterated his recent statement he supported a conscience vote and his colleagues’ rights to their own views on the matter.
Mr McCormack is facing calls to reconsider his own position on the matter from Riverina Greens secretary Ray Goodlass, who is openly gay.
Mr Goodlass said there were “several reasons” why Mr McCormack should change his stance.
“Circumstnaces have now changed and those (traditional) justifications for marriage being between a man and a woman no longer apply,” Mr Goodlass said.
“Most people know that when circumstances change, you change your mind.”
Mr Goodlass wishes to marry his own partner should the Marriage Act be changed. He said marriage held a great deal of significance for same-sex couples as it provided “clearly defined” legal rights.
“Marriage is of huge symbolic significance – it does signify something more of a commitment than a relationship register,” he said. “In terms of absolute equality in relationships, marriage is much more of a guarantee than something such as a relationships register is.”
He said he believed the tide had turned within the Riverina on marriage equality, challenging Mr McCormack’s assertion that the majority of voters in the electorate opposed change.
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