The Same Sex Marriage Bill 2013, introduced by Labor backbencher and State Member for Port Adelaide Susan Close, was defeated without being put to a vote in the state’s Lower House, the House of Assembly.
State Opposition Leader Steven Marshall reiterated that state Liberal MPs would not be allowed a conscience vote on the issue this morning, essentially dooming the bill to failure and making any further attempts to legalise same-sex marriage in the state virtually impossible in the foreseeable future.
While a number of Liberal state MPs are on the record in their support for marriage equality, several spoke against the bill on the grounds that it was unconstitutional for a state Parliament to legislate on marriage, commonly seen as a federal issue.
Speaking on the bill, Liberal former Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said that while she was in favour of gay marriage at a national level, she opposed the state bill as it was “nothing but an attempt to politicise something which can’t be decided by this Parliament”.
Labor South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill (pictured) spoke in favour of the bill, calling opposition to marriage equality “a layer of discrimination that will be eventually removed”.
“We have a responsibility to support legislation that will make our society more inclusive and tolerant. In practical terms, what evidence is there that this change will have adverse consequences for our society? I see no good reason why we should not act,” Weatherill said.
The bill’s defeat comes just one day before a NSW state Parliamentary committee is due to report its opinion on the constitutional legality of state-based same-sex marriage legislation. The report could have a profound effect on the success or otherwise of other pushes for marriage equality legislation in state Parliaments.
Opposition Deputy Leader Vickie Chapman accused the state Labor party of bringing the bill to a vote early to avoid having responsibility for implementing it, arguing that it was a “tactic of the government to present this bill in the full knowledge that it would fail”.
However, the marriage equality debate is set to continue in the state’s Upper House, the Legislative Council, as Greens MLC Tammy Franks introduced an essentially identical same-sex marriage bill yesterday.