A group of lawmakers from across the political spectrum is giving hope to the campaign for marriage equality in Australia by releasing a draft same-sex marriage bill for the state of New South Wales (NSW) today.
The draft bill will allow same-sex couples in the state to marry and recognize marriages from other countries and states and territories in Australia.
'We are thrilled to have a Marriage Equality Bill which we feel confident will stand up to any constitutional challenge,' said the working group, which consists of independent MP Alex Greenwich, Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith and upper house members Labor's Penny Sharpe, Greens' Cate Faehrmann and The Nationals' Trevor Kahn.
The bill was presented as a Valentine's present to the NSW parliament Social Issues Committee who will examine whether a state can legislate for same-sex marriage.
An attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Tasmania was narrowly voted down last September by MLC (Members of the Legislative Council) who said the issue was best dealt with on a national level.
'Whether such state-based laws can operate alongside federal laws is an issue that needs to be examined,' said chair of the Social Issues Committee, The Nationals' MLC Niall Blair.
'Although the debate on same sex marriage raises a range of personal, societal and political questions, the committee’s main focus is whether the State can legislate to legalize same sex marriage and the impacts of such a law.'
The committee are receiving written submissions from the public about their views on same-sex marriage until 1 March. There will be two public hearings on the issue on 6 and 15 March and the committee will present their report on 26 July.
'We are anticipating a large number of submissions for this inquiry across all groups and individuals,' said Blair. 'The significant number of responses received by similar inquires in the Australian parliament indicates the relevance of this matter to Australians today.'