I've just walked out of the Senate, where the Labor Party has just prevented another vote on marriage equality. I know the activities of Parliament this week have been confusing. So, I wanted to tell you all, straight away, the truth.
Labor have decided that waging a political war with us over Senate voting reform is more important than the love and relationships of LGBT Australians, like me. I am so disappointed. I know that many people in our community will be too.
Today Labor and conservative gun-slinger David Leyonhjelm moved to extend debate on marriage equality. The Greens opposed this, and we moved instead to have a real vote, after twelve years of nothing but debate.
This week the Labor Party has taken every opportunity to try and wedge the Greens and force us to back down on Senate voting reform. But we believe in making difficult choices and doing the right thing, even when it's hard.
There's been a lot of "playing politics" this week. Here's how it all went down:
• Tuesday: we were forced to vote against a change to the Senate's official agenda to talk more about marriage equality because it was a tactic designed to derail the possibility of getting Senate reform over the line. They even tried to attach Larissa Waters' legislation that protects farmers against coal seam gas to the anti-worker ABCC legislation to try and wedge us again.
• Wednesday: the Labor Party ramped up their smear campaign. They lied, repeatedly, and claimed over and over that we had voted against marriage equality - something we would never do. Worse yet, a Labor Party senator used an email from a constituent calling me a "gay victim" to mock my position on senate voting reform.
• Thursday: Liberal Democrat Leyonhelm, notorious for his conservative views, tried again to force the Senate to rearrange the official agenda. Leyonhelm is worried that he could lose his job, so he's using our long-term support for marriage equality to try and force us into dropping the voting reforms. And, the Labor Party are helping him.
• JUST NOW Senator Larissa Waters, on behalf of the Australian Greens, asked the Senate to vote on marriage equality. The Labor Party and the Coalition just ganged up to prevent the Senate from voting.
The entire purpose of their targeted attacks was to bully us into dropping the most important piece of democratic reform the parliament has seen in decades.
I am here in this Senate because I believe that all Australians should have their love recognised.
I am here because I kept my identity a secret for years because I was scared about what the world would think of me as a young, gay man.
And I am here because even during weeks like this one I know the Greens will never put politics above policy.
We will win this.
We were prevented from going to a vote today, but the Australian Greens will not stop working until we achieve marriage equality.
Thanks for sticking this out with us,
Senator Robert Simms