The Tasmanian parliament is expected to make history today when it becomes the first state Government to back marriage equality in Australia.
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim introduced a notice of motion to the House of Assembly yesterday expressing in-principle support for marriage equality. The motion also called for the federal Parliament to reform the Marriage Act.
The motion is expected to pass with Tasmanian Labor Premier Lara Giddings already indicating her party’s support and the Liberal Party allowing a conscience vote.
“The Tasmanian Labor Party supports the principle of same-sex marriage on the basis that it provides equality for all,” Giddings told local media.
“This position was reaffirmed by rank and file members at the most recent state conference. This is the position we will be taking in response to the motion put forward by Greens leader Nick McKim.”
McKim said the passing of the motion would “be a historic milestone for marriage equality in Australia”.
“Tasmania could lead the way from being the last Australian state to decriminalise homosexuality to the first to endorse marriage equality, with all the social and economic benefits that would follow,” he said.
“The Greens believe the law needs to be changed to make same-sex marriage legal, and it’s clear from the polls that most Australians agree.
“While the Greens’ motion would not legalise same-sex marriage in Tasmania, it would send a strong signal to federal parliamentarians that they must get in step with community opinion on this issue.
“If we want to send a message that sexuality-based discrimination in our community is unacceptable, we need to remove the discrimination that remains entrenched in our laws.”
Figures release by Australian Marriage Equality yesterday show Tasmania’s economy would benefit by as much as $136 million if it is the first Australian state to introduce same-sex marriage.
The Tasmanian Greens tabled bills in 2005 and 2008 which would have legalised same-sex marriage under state law, and they have not ruled out doing so again should the federal Government fail to act on marriage equality.
“The Greens have already tabled a package of cognate bills in [state] Parliament, and we will bring them on for debate should the federal Parliament fail to act by the end of the year,” McKim said.
The news comes as an ERMS poll commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality found that 65 percent of Tasmanians do not oppose same-sex marriage.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said the poll increased the pressure on Labor and Liberal MPs to support the Greens’ motion.