07 March 2016
2 min read

This year, Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade featured the support of both federal political leaders for the first time ever. Share your support for marriage equality by sending a message to both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten.

Sydney’s 2016 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade celebrated an Australian-first this year as federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten appeared at the event with his family and work colleagues.

“It is time to make [marriage equality] a reality,” Shorten said, prior to his presence at the event.

Shorten’s attendance put pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to also appear at the event – which he attended in 2015, and which falls in Turnbull’s own electorate.

This situation presents a perfect opportunity to put the topic of marriage equality on the political agenda for both major parties at a federal-level.

At Australian Ethical, we think that limiting access to the civil institution of marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory, and that it stigmatises those who are denied access – as well as their families.

Why does this matter to us? Our Australian Ethical Charter (part of our company's Constitution) guides all our investments and helps regulate our other business activities. The Charter outlines that we should support human dignity, and avoid discrimination and unnecessary harms in general.

That’s why we chose to show our support for marriage equality by signing this open letter promoted by Australian Marriage Equality, an organisation founded in 2004 in response to federal parliament's passing a bill amending the Marriage Act 1961 to rule out the legal recognition of marriages between same-sex couples.

While Australian law already recognises some rights of same-sex partners, we don’t believe that the way in which Australians are entitled to have their relationship commitments recognised should depend on sexual preference. We think extending marriage to all adults, regardless of the gender they identify with, is an important further step.

What about children of same-sex parents? Research studies have not established any negative impact on children’s wellbeing. Indeed denying marriage to same sex parents risks stigmatising their children, damaging their self-esteem. Some of the research on same-sex parenting is summarised in this article which explains why, using research from more than 100 studies, the gender of parents doesn't matter.

We emphasise that while we think that same-sex couples should be entitled to be married in civil ceremonies under Australian law, we are not supporting legislative change that would prevent churches choosing only to marry couples of different sexes.

As our Ethical Charter applies to all the actions of Australian Ethical, we also consider it part of our role to exercise an ethical voice to promote constructive debate about issues which are important to the interests of people, animals and the planet. We realise that productive discussion about deeply felt issues can be difficult, but often these are the issues where open and respectful debate is most needed.

The 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival culminated in the annual parade on Saturday 5 March. You can help celebrate this beautiful celebration of love by showing your support for marriage equality. Contact the leaders of the two major political parties to let them know why you think their party should take a more compassionate approach to the issue of marriage equality.

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