A report published today by a cross-party panel of senators has given the strongest official endorsement yet into legalizing gay marriage in Australia.
The legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee report has four recommendations, the fourth of which clearly endorses a change in the law to allow gay people to marry. It reads:
‘The committee strongly supports the Marriage Equality Amendment
Bill 2010 and recommends that it be debated and passed into law, subject to the
suggested amendments set out in Recommendations 2 and 3.’
Recommendations 2 and 3 are word changes to the original bill brought to the senate by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
The report also recommends that all political parties allow their senators and MPs a conscience vote on the marriage equality bills before parliament.
Currently leader of the opposition Tony Abbot is not allowing his MPs to vote freely on the issue, which would obstruct any bill from being passed.
The inquiry received a record number of submissions: 79,200 in total. Approximately 59% or 46,400 supported the Marriage Equality Bill and 41% or 32,800 opposed it.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich said this was a ‘watershed moment’.
‘Coalition, Labor and Greens members of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee have joined forces to help progress a reform a majority of Australians want,’ Greenwich said.
‘This report has given voice to the very powerful conservative case for same-sex marriage, and has also called on Mr Abbott to allow members of the Coalition the opportunity to vote for reform and express their support for marriage equality as conservatives.’
Anti-gay marriage campaigners Australian Christian Lobby issued a statement urging parliament to hasten a vote on the issue.
‘It might suit supporters of redefining marriage to keep dragging this out, but I think most people have well and truly had enough of this debate and wish for it to be speedily resolved,’ said managing director Jim Wallace.
‘The Government should bring on the vote this week before the winter recess so that the Parliament can get on with other important business facing our nation.’
The report from the Australian senate (upper house) follows the a report from the house of representatives (lower house) last week which did not make recommendations.