Lots of news coming out of Australia this morning on marriage equality. First off, the Youth Parliament in New South Wales voted 79-0 in the upper house and 40-4 in the lower house to approve a marriage equality “bill”. Gay Star News reports:
The Youth Parliament passed its non-legally binding Marriage Equality Bill unanimously in its lower house in a vote of 79 to zero, and the upper house voted 40 to 4 to approve the measure which also supported the recognition of overseas same-sex marriages in Australia. Debate on the bill became so emotional that several people left the chamber in tears after one speaker spoke of his experience of being bashed after coming out as gay. ‘I’ve never sat through a debate that was so emotional, that was so personal, said John Barilaro, the NSW National Party MP who acted as Speaker for the Bill in the Lower House.
On the same day, the lesbian head of the Australian Senate rejected Prime Minister Rudd’s back-up plan for a public vote on marriage equality. Gay Star News reports:
Australian Finance Minister and government leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, has rejected a plan by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to hold a referendum or plebiscite on same-sex marriage if Opposition leader Tony Abbott refuses to give his MPs a free vote on the issue. Wong, who is in a same-sex relationship, warned that while a clear majority of Australians supported reform on the issue, the same had been the case for support for Australia becoming a republic in 1999 when a referendum had failed on that issue.
And finally, Christian Groups are trying to scare the Prime Minister away from his support of marriage equality. Gay Star News reports:
‘There would be many people in the Christian constituency who would have seen Kevin Rudd for many years holding press conferences outside church, defending marriage, then suddenly change his mind because of the whims of pop culture… ‘For someone like Kevin Rudd who has courted the Christian constituency to then really betray that constituency on an issue that’s very dear to a large proportion of that constituency, I think is a political mistake.’
Right now, Rudd’s preference seems to be another vote in Parliament, but with conservative MP’s freed up to vote their conscience. If that fails, we’ll see what happens next.