Mireille Merlet

Hogan backs gay marriage, but prefers plebiscite

THE first Federal Nationals MP to stand against CSG has become the third in as many days to declare his support for same-sex marriage.

Page MP Kevin Hogan yesterday announced he would support a potential cross-party marriage equality Bill on the proviso churches not be forced to marry gay couples.

He also said he would "argue strongly for the decision to be given to the Australian public", saying he preferred a plebiscite on the issue.

"It is quite a significant cultural step and my preference is that the Australian public make that decision. We could do that in conjunction with the Federal Election," he said.

"My thinking on it has evolved over time.

"I have friends who are gay. I have friends who are gay and who have been in a relationship for over 20 years and I respect them and the relationship they have."

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However, Mr Hogan emphasised that his support came with a strong proviso.

"I've evolved to the situation where if they chose and wanted to get married in the registry office or in the park they could have that recognised. I am comfortable with that but only if churches are completely protected," he said. "Churches should not have to marry people if it is going against the values and the teachings of the church."

On Tuesday Gippsland MP and parliamentary secretary Darren Chester became the first Nationals MP to openly support same-sex marriage.

Since then, Mr Hogan and Northern Territory MP Nigel Scullion have ensured that Mr Chester wasn't the only gay supporter in the Nat village.

However, Mr Hogan said his early progressive stance within the family values Party was not difficult.

"On coal seam gas, for example, I was the first Nationals MP to come out publicly (and say) that it wasn't relevant to our region so that was big," Mr Hogan said.

"This is how I've felt about it (same-sex marriage) personally for some time.

"It is now that the issue is in the public domain, people want to know where I stand."

Mr Hogan's strong caveat regarding church autonomy is unlikely to attract objections.

Of the three marriage equality bills before the parliament, all make it clear no religious celebrant will be forced to marry same-sex couples.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot has been a long-time supporter of gay marriage.

"I support marriage equality because people should be allowed to marry the person that they love," she said.

"I voted in Parliament in 2012 to support marriage equality and will do so again. Our current law excludes some individuals and that's wrong. I want to see that changed.

"By voting for marriage equality I want to send a strong message - I want locals to know your relationship matters and your love should be equal under the law."

 

NOT THE ONLY GAY SUPPORTER

ONLINE readers of The Northern Star reacted mainly positively to the news Kevin Hogan was in support of same-sex marriage.

In a poll on our website asking "What do you think about Kevin Hogan's public support for same-sex marriage?", as of 2pm yesterday:

77% said "Good on him - about time!"

12% said "I don't agree with him. He'll lose my vote at the next election."

10% said "I don't care. There are more important issues to argue about."



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