Tasmania has vowed to go it alone to legislate for same-sex marriage.
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim said the Greens have constitutional advice the state can legislate for same-sex marriage.
The Greens have already tabled legislation in Tasmanian Parliament. McKim said he intends to bring debate forward in the first half of 2012 and has called on Labor premier Lara Giddings to support his plans.
McKim said following the Australian Labor Party’s decision at its National Conference to support a conscience vote on the issue, it looked unlikely change would occur in the federal arena.
“While it was a positive step for the ALP to change its platform on same-sex marriage, the decision to endorse a conscience vote in the federal Parliament will almost certainly mean this measure is doomed to fail,” McKim said.
“The Greens are of the firm opinion that should the federal Parliament fail to end this discrimination, Tasmania has the constitutional capacity to go it alone.”
Earlier this year, Tasmanian MPs, including all Labor MPs, voted to back a motion giving in-principle support for same-sex marriage.
Giddings spoke out strongly in support of same-sex marriage during debate on the motion, but has since said she believes marriage should be tackled at a national level.
“Legal advice we get back from the solicitor-general is that you can’t do it here in Tasmania alone, that it is an issue under the Australian Constitution,” Giddings said this week.
“The Australian Marriage Act is a federal Parliament piece of legislation and at the state level, you can’t go it alone. “I don’t really want to go out there on this issue and have the Australian Government take us to the federal courts, to the High Court, and be spending money on legal action when I’ve got strong legal advice of my own to say it cannot be done.”
McKim said the advice Giddings was relying on was from Tasmania’s former solicitor-general and said new advice should be sought.
“The Greens’ advice is from one of Australia’s most respected constitutional lawyers, Professor George Williams, whose view is that Tasmania does not need to wait for the federal Government to act,” he said.
“This reform will not cost the state budget a single cent, but could deliver a massive economic boost to Tasmania’s economy by turning the state into a same-sex marriage destination.”
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said marriage equality advocates would lobby hard for state laws to be enacted.