The Labor Party’s loose collective of GLBTI members is confident same-sex couples will earn greater relationship recognition at the party’s next national conference.

While Rainbow Labor failed to get everything it wanted at the three-day conference, by playing by the rules senior figures in the faction believe the stage is set for a fairer marriage equality policy at the 2012 conference.

The GLBTI policy compromise -” which saw no movement on marriage or civil unions, but an undertaking by the Government to review relationship recognition for same-sex couples -” was the most contentious of the conference.

Members of the party’s right faction were marched off the conference floor less than an hour before the amendment was to be introduced and ordered to -œpull their heads in and agree to the deal.

After 30 minutes of debate the right faction agreed and no public debate took place. Many from the left were disappointed they had been effectively gagged.

Senator Louise Pratt said many delegates -” from both left and right factions -” wanted to use the conference to speak in favour of relationship equality, but agreed progress had been made.

-œWe should not be stigmatising families and I am pleased we are removing from the platform the words that define marriage as between a man and a woman, she told her fellow delegates.

-œWhy should children of same-sex parents have to grow up knowing their family is viewed as a second class family?

Pratt was the group’s most prominent player, but is not its leader. It has no leader or factional alignment, which meant members could advocate for gay rights advances within their own groups.

For the first time the group also included influential members of the party’s right faction, such as climate change minister Senator Penny Wong.

Rainbow Labor held a function at the Dunkirk Hotel in Pyrmont on the first day of the conference to celebrate the party’s record of GLBTI law reform, attended by about 50 people, including Senators Wong and Trish Crossin, Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek and NSW MLC Penny Sharpe.

Explaining the often rocky road to reform were former Hawke Government health minister Neal Blewett, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell and Ken Davis from the Pride History Group.

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