Australian marriage equality one step closer

Senator Hanson-Young announces she will bring marriage bill to senate committee

Australian marriage equality one step closer
24 January 2012

Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young announced today that she will bring a marriage equality amendment bill to the senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee when the Australian parliament reconvenes on 7 February.

Australian Marriage Equality described the move as a ‘winnable way forward’. National convener Alex Greenwich told Gay Star News: 'Essentially what's happening is now the bill will be referred to the senate legal and constitutional affairs committee which gives us an opportunity to put all the cases for marriage equality forward and to have all the cases against it challenged.' 

'It's generally a winnable way forward, in that it will get all the arguments for marriage equality out there on the table and dealt with in a mature way.'

The inquiry will address concerns about marriage reform and look at new research that has emerged since the last senate inquiry into the matter in 2009.

Australia is currently governed by a minority government of the Australian Labor Party with support from the Australian Greens and three independent MPs. A coalition between the Liberal and National parties sits in opposition. The Labor Party have agreed on a 'conscience vote' on gay marriage, where MPs are allowed to vote on their own personal beliefs rather than the party line. But opposition leader Tony Abbott is not allowing his MPs the same freedom, meaning proposed marriage equality bills will not be voted into law. Therefore a government inquiry into the matter may help politicians to move beyond the stalemate. 

'It's time for an in-depth inquiry into marriage equality that looks at key issues of concern for MPs including the protection of religious freedoms, the inadequacy of civil unions, the mental health impacts of discrimination and the impact of same-sex marriage overseas,' said Australian Marriage Equality in a statement. 'A senate inquiry will provide the time and the evidence required to win the hearts and minds of undecided Coalition and Labor MPs.'

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