It’s time to take the next step on the journey to equality for same-sex couples and their families in NSW.
Today, on behalf of the NSW Cross Party Group on Marriage Equality, I will introduce the NSW Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2013, into the NSW Legislative Council.
In the last twenty years NSW has removed discrimination against same-sex couples in all areas of the law. Yet even though gay and lesbian citizens are no longer considered criminals and the State legally considers it “ok to be gay”, same-sex couples are unable to legally marry in this state.
NSW should change this. NSW can change this.
As legislators, the members of the Cross Party Working Group see it as our duty to stand up for the thousands of loving couples in NSW who want to have their commitment to one another legally recognised – not just for themselves – but for their families and for the community as a whole.
In doing so we are supporting the majority of people in NSW who believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry.
There has been a lot of debate about the Cross Party’s Bill with a focus on two key legal questions.
Can NSW make laws for marriage?
And if NSW does pass this law, will it survive a High Court challenge?
The answer to the first question is yes – under the Australian Constitution (s52) it is clear that the power to make marriage laws is a joint power of both the states and the Commonwealth.
The answer to the second question is also yes – this Bill is the result of many hours of discussion, debate and consultation between the Working Group, constitutional experts, lawyers and GLBTI organisations. As a result of advice, the working group was reluctantly forced to narrow the scope of our bill to only include same-sex couples.
This Bill is on firm legal ground.
Penny Sharpe is the Labor Member of the NSW Cross Party Group on Marriage Equality
Trevor Khan (Nationals)
Mehreen Faruqi (Greens)
Bruce Notley – Smith (Liberals)
Alex Greenwich (Independent)