The same-sex marriage debate has claimed its first political casualty.
West Australian Labor Senator Joe Bullock told the Senate last night he was quitting over his party’s stance on the issue.
Senator Bullock said he could not continue to back the party after its national conference voted to strongly endorse same-sex marriage – moving from a previous position of allowing each MP to decide his own stance.
“This question has dogged me for six months,” Mr Bullock later told reporters.
“How can I in good conscience recommend to the people that they vote for a party which is determined to deny its parliamentarians a conscience vote on the homosexual marriage question?
“The simple answer is that I can’t. I cannot do that, given I think it is wrong. If the job requires that you do something you think is wrong, the honourable thing to do is resign,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told the Sydney Morning Herald that Mr Bullock was a man of deeply held faith and convictions and had always held to his views.
“I don’t agree with his views on a number of issues – including marriage equality – but I respect his right to hold those opinions,” he said.
“I respect the decision he’s made to step down tonight, knowing it’s come after a long period of consideration.”
Mr Bullock will leave the Senate on March 17.