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Tasmanian marriage debate reignited
Tasmanian politicians are expected to debate marriage equality within six months after the Upper House knocked it back just last year.
Greens leader Nick McKim and Premier Lara Giddings have said they will reintroduce their marriage equality bill to the Upper House where it was defeated eight votes to six in September.
Giddings said she had been inspired to reignite the debate by the recent UK vote where marriage equality legislation was passed in the House of Commons.
In May, three Upper House members will face an election and there is speculation it won’t happen until after elections in May.
McKim told The Examiner newspaper the upcoming election was really important.
“I think the debate needs to happen again, and the upper house needs to be given another opportunity to stop this discrimination,” McKim said.
“There is a really important upper house election coming up.
“The balance of the upper house was very close and one or two seats changing hands could certainly change the make-up of the upper house and potentially deliver a majority of progressive members unlike what we currently have.”
Legislative Council President Sue Smith, who opposes marriage equality, will not be recontesting her seat of Montgomery. Central Coast Council deputy mayor Cheryl Fuller and local marriage celebrant Leonie Hiscutt will be campaigning for Smith’s seat.
While Fuller supports marriage equality, Hiscutt will be standing for the Tasmanian Liberal Party which is known to collectively oppose the issue.
Independent Jim Wilkinson and Liberal Vanessa Goodwin are also up for re-election and both opposed same-sex marriage last year.
“The marriage equality bill was only defeated by two votes in September and there are three electorates up in May so it’s quite possible that the balance on this issue in the Upper House could change after this election,” Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Rodney Croome told the Star Observer.
“Even if it doesn’t change I think we’ve still got strong arguments and strong community support and we’ve got a good chance of getting this reform through.”
Montgomery resident Amy Barwick said she was disgusted the marriage equality bill had not already passed the Upper House.
“I think a lot of people are now getting behind marriage equality on the coast and I just don’t want the coast to have that backwards, conservative image and it really needs to move forward,” she said.
Barwick, a heterosexual woman with same-sex attracted family and friends, said she thought it was excellent that the Tasmanian government was reintroducing the bill.
“I really want Tasmania to be the leader for Australia.”