By Luke Voogt
A local MP gave a tearful tribute to her close gay friend as Federal Parliament prepared for the final vote on same-sex marriage this week.
Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson cried as she remembered one of her final conversations with John Parker before he died months ago.
“He just said to me, ‘Hendo, just bloody well get on with it, okay’,” she told Parliament on Wednesday.
“And I say to JP, my dear beloved friend who I miss so dearly; JP, that is what we are doing.”
Parliament was set for a final vote on the Federal Government’s same-sex marriage bill as the Indy went to press, after it passed the Senate on Wednesday.
Mr Parker had been a close friend of Ms Henderson since she was 12, she told Parliament.
“He was gay – and it was something – he had a lot of struggles – he was a very dear friend,” the 53-year-old said.
“I don’t want to say too much about John. When I can say more about it I will, but I want to talk to his family first.
“He really wanted to see this change in the law – and his loss – I haven’t been able to write anything about it or speak about it because it’s been such a – it’s been so horrific.
“I’m sorry I’m crying. But his loss has been terrible.”
Ms Henderson also congratulated Moriac same-sex marriage campaigner Sharyn Faulkner during her emotional speech.
“She has fought tirelessly to ensure that both her sons (one straight and one gay) have the same right to marry,” Ms Henderson said.
“As a mother and as a campaigner, she is a pretty incredible woman.”
More than 72 per cent of people supported same-sex marriage in Corangamite out of those who voted in the Federal Government’s national marriage survey.
The Governor-General could ratify the bill this week, which would meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s pledge to make same-sex marriage legal by Christmas.
Ms Henderson was the last of about 120 politicians to speak about the bill in Parliament this week, including Corio MP Richard Marles.
Mr Marles paid tribute to his homosexual friends, family and fellow Labor MP Penny Wong.
“Today we celebrate all of those in our lives who are in same-sex relationships and who we love,” he told Parliament on Tuesday.
“I celebrate my brother-in-law, Jason, and his partner, Wayne
“I celebrate my colleague Penny Wong and her partner, Sophie. I celebrate my dear friend Lidija Ivanovski, who helped me with this speech today, and her wife, Jane.
“I celebrate my sister Jen and her partner, Sue.”
About 68 per cent of people who voted in his electorate supported same sex marriage.