ALP national conference, day 1

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been forced to clarify reports he would reject an ALP National Conference decision this week if it supported a shift to marriage equality.

He said what he meant, and yesterday clarified, was that debate on same-sex relationship recognition was understandable and legitimate, but his own view wouldn’t change.

I fully accept that it’s a matter of controversy and there will be debate and there should be, Rudd told ABC Radio in Adelaide yesterday.

We’ve simply reflected our view and my view as to what the proper arrangement are under the Marriage Act.

Rainbow Labor is in furious agreement with the Prime Minister on the legitimacy of the debate. The coalition of GLBTI Labor members has tried to show a united front to the factional delegates at the conference who will decide the official policy for the next three years.

Five years ago, under different leadership, the ALP was wedged into supporting the ban on same-sex marriage by the Howard government, spokesman Matthew Loader said.

Whatever the reasons were then, they need to be revisited now in an intelligent and comradely fashion.

Hiding behind the statement -˜that is our existing policy’ will no longer satisfy the majority of Australians who support recognising same-sex marriage.

Negotiations with faction leaders were continuing today ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for amendments to the current policy.

The minimalist proposal would simply drop a few words from the existing policy for state-based relationship registers so it no longer demands they not mimic marriage or undermine opposite sex marriage only.

Others in the party believe federal civil unions would receive support from both left and right ALP factions.

The current policy that federal Labor pass anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation and gender identity has gone under the radar amid the marriage debate.

Cabinet minister Anthony Albanese has been among those pushing for anti-discrimination laws for more than a decade. But just weeks before the 2007 election the policy was dropped from the official list of Rudd Government commitments.

Rainbow Labor fears that pushing for a commitment on federal anti-discrimination laws this week will push relationship recognition off the conference agenda.

The final vote by the 400 conference delegates will take place Saturday morning.

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