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Australian state a step closer to marriage equality

An Australian state could vote on legalizing same-sex marriage as soon as this week, as it prepares to debate a bill on the issue
Alex Greenwich (on right)

The Australian state of Tasmania is a step closer to becoming the first in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, with a bill tabled and set to be debated in its Lower House later this week

Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich called the bill ‘high quality and comprehensive’ and said it had been carefully drafted to withstand any challenge in the Australian High Court.

‘The Tasmanian Bill is the most detailed bill for a state marriage scheme that we have seen, and we hope it will also be used by the other states considering this vital reform,’ Greenwich said.

The bill includes an ‘opt-in’ register of celebrants willing to perform same-sex marriages.

‘The Bill places no obligation whatsoever on ministers of religion who do not wish to marry same-sex couples, but should clergy wish to marry same-sex couples they are free to apply to be celebrants,’ Greenwich said.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome said he was proud Tasmania is leading the way on marriage equality and praised the way that the Tasmanian Labor Government and the minority Greens party had worked together on the bill.

‘This reform will help build stronger relationships and families, foster a more inclusive society, benefit the economy, and increase pressure on the other states and the federal government to follow suite,’ Croome said.

‘The way that Labor and the Greens have worked together to develop robust legislation and implement a reform the majority of Tasmanians want sends a strong message to our federal parliament.’

Croome also took the opportunity to responded to criticism from the opposition Liberal Party that the government should focus on other priorities.

‘Marriage equality has been the subject of serious debate since 2004 and state laws have been on the table since 2005. How long do our families have to wait before they can watch us walk down the aisle?’ Croome said.

Australian Marriage Equality and the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group are confident the bill will succeed in the Lower House but it may face a tougher time in the Tasmanian Upper House which is mostly filled with independents without party loyalties.

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