NSW draft bill on equal marriage released
In what has been called a Valentine’s Day gift to the state’s same-sex couples, a NSW committee has released blueprint legislation for state-based same-sex marriage.
The NSW cross party working group for marriage equality presented the draft State Marriage Equality Bill 2013 to the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Same sex marriage law this morning.
The bill would provide for marriage equality by allowing for same-sex marriage between two adults regardless of their sex.
The working group consists of representatives from the Liberals, Greens, Labor and the National Party, as well as Independent Alex Greenwich.
NSW National Party MLC Trevor Khan told gaynewsnetwork support from conservative parties for same-sex marriage, as seen in the UK, reflected a “generational change” in conservative politics.
“There is a clear expectation in the community, a growing expectation in the community that same-sex couples are entitled to access the same institutions as heterosexual couples,” Khan said.
“If a same-sex couple wishes to express their love and commitment through the ceremony of a marriage, then they should be entitled to do that.”
Khan said he is confident the NSW government has the power to make laws with regard to same-sex marriage, adding the NSW Parliamentary Committee into same-sex marriage was focused on Constitutional obstacles to a state system.
“If the Commonwealth eventually amends the Marriage Act 1961 then they will take the field again and the state legislation will sit then technically in abeyance, just as the 1961 Act had that effect in terms of the state marriage laws,” Khan said.
The draft bill states dissolution of marriages and property disputes will be governed by existing law.
It does not compel religious ministers to perform same-sex ceremonies.
Before solemising the vows , the draft bill requires celebrants to state:
“I am duly authorised under the State Marriage Equality Act 2013 made by the Parliament of New South Wales to solemnise same-sex marriages”.
“Before you are duly wed in my presence and the presence of these witnesses, I remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are about to enter”.
“Under the law, this wedding recognises that you are voluntarily entering into a lawful and binding union, for life, to the exclusion of all others”.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Rodney Croome said it was an appropriate day to release the draft.
"Valentine's Day is about love and what better day to release legislation which seeks to deliver marriage equality," he said.
"The NSW bill builds on the Tasmanian legislation. We will be reviewing it closely and provide a detailed commentary, submission, and submission guide on this important legislation."
In a joint statement the working group said British and French parliaments had recently voted in favour of marriage equality and NSW will be next to address the reform.
The bill is in a draft stage and the NSW cross party working group for marriage equality will continue to work with community groups to ensure the best possible outcome for GLTBI people and their families.
The Inquiry into Same sex marriage law in NSW is taking public submissions until March 1, 2013.
The consultation draft of the bill is available on the website of the NSW cross party working group for marriage equality: http://nswmarriageequality.com.au
View submissions to the marriage inquiry here.
IMAGE: The NSW cross party working group for marriage equality: (L-R) Trevor Khan, Bruce Notley-Smith, Alex Greenwich, Penny Sharpe, Justin Koonin (NSW GLRL), Cate Faehrmann.