Prime Minister Julia Gillard has acknowledged the Labor Party platform will most likely change to support same-sex marriage in a vote at tomorrow’s National Conference, according to news reports.
The Australian newspaper claims Gillard has met with factional leaders today to appeal for support for a conscience vote on the issue, knowing the numbers are not there to prevent a change in party policy.
Earlier today ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said they believed the party platform would change to allow same-sex marriage.
“I think a majority of conference delegates will determine that it is appropriate that we have marriage equality, that we recognise that relationships are legitimate regardless of the sexuality of those people engaged with them and that by giving one group of the community equal rights, we’re not actually taking away rights from any other section of the community,” Albanese told ABC Radio this morning.
A number of members from Labor’s Right faction have indicated they will vote in favour of changing the party platform.
Earlier today lobby group GetUp! and the Australian Marriage Equality presented a pro-marriage equality petition of 140,285 signatures to Finance Minister Penny Wong to submit to the conference, currently being held in Sydney.
Inside the party, Rainbow Labor has lead the charge with calls to change the ALP’s platform calling for the Party to,”amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life”.
The statement, to be voted on tomorrow, also goes on to say the amendments would not obligate a minister of religion to solemnise same-sex marriages.
Some Labor MPs have threatened to cross the floor of parliament if they are required to vote for same-sex marriage along party lines.
Protesters on both sides of the fence will take to the streets tomorrow.
Community Action Against Homophobia co-convenor Ben Cooper predicted thousands would rally in favour of same-sex marriage.
“We are expecting thousands of people to descend on the convention centre to send a clear message to the ALP that the ALP must pass marriage equality legislation in the federal parliament,” he told the Star Observer.
“The time for marriage equality is now. For too long same-sex couples are denied this basic right and we encourage the community to along and show their support.”
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today said it didn’t trust claims that churches would not be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.
“Supposed protections for the church have not worked overseas and particularly offer no protection to the exercise of freedom of conscience by individual Christians” ACL spokesman Jim Wallace said.