Marriage equality campaign pushes on
Marriage equality advocates are renewing their efforts to have same-sex marriage legalised in Australia in light of reform being likely to pass in New Zealand.
Last night, New Zealand MPs voted 77 to 44 in favour of a same-sex marriage bill.
It was the second vote on the bill, which included minor changes from the first draft, such as making it explicit that clergy can refuse to officiate at same-sex weddings. A third vote which will turn the bill into law is considered to be little more than a formality.
In Australia, the Greens have brought their own marriage equality bill forward for debate, with Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt saying marriage equality was now an election issue as marriage equality is "sweeping the world".
''The Prime Minister and Tony Abbott need to show leadership and like Barack Obama have the courage to change their minds,'' Bandt said.
Bandt claimed the majority of federal MPs already backed reform, but the legislation was being held back by opposition leader Tony Abbott refusing his colleagues a conscience vote.
"Allowing Coalition MPs a conscience vote is the first test of Tony Abbott's claim that he won't let his religious beliefs influence politics,'' Bandt said,
Bandt was referring to Abbott's recent appearance on TV program 60 Minutes, where he said that while his faith was important to him, "it must never, never dictate my politics".
''With the election approaching, every MP's support for marriage equality is going to be put to the electoral test," Bandt said.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Rodney Croome said adult children of same-sex couples will be meeting with MPs next week in an effort to “change hearts and minds”.
"Children raised by same-sex couples have an important story to tell about how they and their families would have benefitted if their parents had had the option of marriage," Croome said.
"Children of same-sex couples are best placed to explode one of the key objections to marriage equality: that gay people can't or shouldn't raise children."
Croome said he hoped the Greens’ bill would go to a vote before the September federal election and that Abbott would change his mind and allow a conscience vote on the issue in line with Liberal Party values.
"Tony Abbott has nothing to fear from allowing a conscience vote and a lot to gain, particularly among young voters for whom this is a significant issue," Croome said.
"A conscience vote is consistent with Liberal Party values like individual freedom and has growing support within the Coalition, including from the Young Liberals and from respected state Liberal premiers like Colin Barnett and Barry O'Farrell."
Louisa Wall, the lesbian Labour MP who brought in the New Zealand bill said in parliament the bill was about "equality".
"It’s about marriage between two people. There’s no distinction to be made: that is equality," Wall said.
"Whether the form of that marriage is religious, secular or cultural is a matter for the couple to determine.
"Denying marriage to a person is to devalue that person’s right to participate fully in all that life offers.
"It’s essentially not recognising someone as a person. No state has the right to do that."
The Australian Greens bill is up for debate early next week.