November 19, 2018
Europe

Same-sex marriage and the defining image that almost wasn’t

Related Story: This is how everyone voted — and didn't vote — on same-sex marriageRelated Story: Same-sex marriage bill passes House of Representatives

Minutes before same-sex marriage became legal in Australia, a lone voice in the House of Representatives yelled "no!".

Key points:

  • David Littleproud vowed to vote with his electorate no matter the result of the survey
  • He says his personal view is that there should have been 17 No votes recorded
  • He's now being flooded with thanks from both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage

It was met with laughter from those in the public gallery, who had been sitting patiently all day to watch this moment of history.

When the Speaker suggested the "Ayes" (those in favour of passing the bill on same-sex marriage) were in the majority, that same lone voice cried out again.

"The Noes have it!"

The laughter turned to groans of derision from many of those watching on, who couldn't believe, even at the finish line, someone was trying to delay the inevitable by forcing a division.

The procedure of "dividing" into the left and right of the chamber to count those for and against isn't automatic.

Often, when it's clear which side has the numbers, the voices alone are enough to settle the matter.

But on this issue, despite the clearest of majorities for the "Ayes", that lone voice was insistent.

A few days on, the owner of that voice is now being flooded with thanks from both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, across the political spectrum.

The House of Representatives showing the large majority of MPs voting in favour of the same-sex marriage bill.

A promise to vote no, no matter what the postal survey said

Queensland backbencher David Littleproud represents the seat of Maranoa, the only Nationals seat in the country to have voted no.

He'd promised to vote with his electorate no matter what the result.

In the end, 56.1 per cent of his constituents voted against legalising same-sex marriage.

So, in the final week of Parliament, Mr Littleproud informed his colleagues in the Nationals party room he was going to vote no on the floor of Parliament.

"By hell or highwater I was going to stick to my promise," he told the ABC.

He also alerted the Speaker, on the day, to listen out for his voice when the final question was put forward.

But when the moment came, Mr Littleproud says it wasn't easy.

The chamber had just erupted with an emphatic "Aye!". It was clear any resistance now was utterly futile.

"The adrenaline was running high, but I'm glad I did it," Mr Littleproud said.

"It was quite an intimidating moment, but I owed it to the people of my electorate to cast my vote."

David Littleproud stands over the hills in Maranoa.

Without the cry of no, the picture never would've happened

Backing down on his word would have not only broken a clear promise to his electorate, it would have denied Australia the defining image of the same-sex marriage parliamentary victory.

According to one prominent Yes supporter in Parliament, seeing Liberal, National, Labor, Greens and crossbench MPs crammed together on the Government benches, voting in favour of same-sex marriage, was an important display of unity and support for the LGBTI community, after a difficult and at times divisive debate.

For the House to divide, two No voices are required. With Bob Katter out of the chamber, it was left to Mr Littleproud's fellow National MP Keith Pitt to back him.

Had they not piped up and called for a division, the motion would have passed on the "Aye" voices alone and that defining image would never have happened.

We also wouldn't have known about the other Coalition members who intended to abstain from the final vote, even though, for some, that meant breaking a promise.

"My personal view is there should have been 17 No votes recorded," Mr Littleproud said.

Just four MPs voted against same-sex marriage in the chamber: Mr Littleproud and Mr Pitt, along with Liberal MP Russell Broadbent and crossbencher Bob Katter.

Messages of thanks

After the vote, as MPs hugged each other and waved a rainbow flag, Mr Littleproud says a lot of Yes supporters, including some from Labor, came up and thanked him for insisting on the division.

In the days since, he says he's received more than 100 emails of thanks from voters all over the country.

"A backbencher from outback Queensland normally doesn't get that many emails" he said.

As well as support from the Yes camp, Mr Littleproud says he's received a significant number of emails from No supporters in western Sydney, praising him for representing the wishes of his electorate.

Original Article

The post Same-sex marriage and the defining image that almost wasn't appeared first on News Wire Now.

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