The state of South Australia's upper house passed a motion yesterday to congratulate New Zealand on legalizing same-sex marriage.
Two members of the Liberal party joined Labor MLCs (Members of the Legislative Council) and others to support the motion which was passed 11 to 10.
Liberal MLC Michelle Lensink's voice broke as she said: 'Relationships and stability should be encouraged. I have too many gay and lesbian friends not to support [the motion] on their behalf'.
Sponsor of the Bill, Labor MLC Gerry Kandelaars, who has a gay daughter said:
'My son can and is married but my daughter can't marry her partner. The question is why? There is broad support across our community to see a change here.'
The support for gay marriage in the upper house was demonstrated ahead of a vote in the lower house today on the Same Sex Marriage Bill 2013 that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
Premier Jay Weatherill has indicated he will vote in favor. It is not clear whether Liberal party MPs will be allowed a conscience vote, as they were in the vote to congratulate New Zealand.
Sponsor of the Bill Labor MP Susan Close said she has received legal advice that says the state parliament is able to pass its own law in the absence of state legislation, news.com.au reports.
A similar bill was rejected by Tasmania's upper house last year on legal concerns about one state changing marriage law ahead of the federal government.
'The Bill would allow the South Australian parliament to achieve what it has just congratulated New Zealand for achieving,' said Australian Marriage Equality South Australian convener, Harley Schumann.
'We look to South Australia leading the way on this important reform should similar legislation continue to fail in the federal parliament.'
If same-sex marriage legislation passes in South Australia it will be the first Australian state to do so.
News.com.au report that at least 19 out of 47 South Australian lower house MPs support marriage equality.