Gay and lesbian Victorians will have to wait until other states legislate for marriage first, state parliamentarians told a marriage equality forum last week.

About 20 people attended the forum hosted by Australian Marriage Equality and the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby in Carlton on November 15.

Shadow Attorney General and Labor MP Martin Pakula, Liberal MP Clem Newton Brown, Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik, AME national convenor Rodney Croome and PFLAG national spokeswoman Shelley Argent spoke to the issues surrounding same-sex marriage since the federal Parliament blocked two attempts in September.

Pennicuik introduced a marriage equality bill into the Victorian Upper House in June in case the federal bills were unsuccessful.

The Victorian government has refused a conscience vote on the matter and the Opposition has concerns about the bill.

Pennicuik told the forum that Victorians would be watching the results of a cross-party committee in New South Wales between Labor, the Greens, the Nationals and the Liberal parties before they acted.

“At first we were waiting to see what happened at the federal level, then we were waiting to see what was happening in Tasmania, now we’re looking at what’s happening in New South Wales because that seems to be more about collegiate operation between the parties,” she said.

The Shadow Attorney General said that while he supported same-sex marriage in principle, he had concerns about the prospects of gay marriage in Victoria.

“The reality is unless a conscience vote is granted in the government party, the bill will fail,” he said.

He also raised concerns about a constitutional challenge, despite legal advice that supports the bill, and the lack of interstate recognition.

“The notion that a marriage will be recognised on one side of the Murray [River] and not the other… that troubles me,” Pakula said.

He did say the Victorian Labor Party may co-sponsor the bill once they had been briefed on it in coming months.

Newton Brown said state-based marriage was not enough, however acknowledged that now national marriage was off the agenda, he would be open to it if the constitutional issue was resolved.

“I have a pretty firm view that this issue is about marriage equality and I don’t see a state-based marriage being equal with the federal-based marriage that the rest of the heterosexual population can enter in to,” he said.

South Australia and the ACT are expected to push same-sex marriage legislation through their parliaments next year.

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