The Greens have vowed to take their fight for same-sex marriage into federal Parliament in the new year.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has promised to pursue passage of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill when Parliament resumes in February, despite bipartisan opposition.
A loud voice of discontent has risen within the wider gay community since the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee handed down its report opposing same-sex marriage last week.
“Just because the report’s been handed down, I think we can all read between the lines and we all know the recommendation is to satisfy Kevin Rudd, not to satisfy the actual evidence that was presented to the committee,” Hanson-Young told Sydney Star Observer.
“[Rudd’s] holding a tight grip on anyone in the Labor Party and the Government who perhaps wants to see a more progressive move towards supporting same-sex marriage.”
Hanson-Young has called for a conscience vote to be allowed when the Bill goes to a vote.
GLBTI groups across the country have denounced the Committee’s report.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said banning same-sex marriage perpetuates discrimination against gay and lesbian people.
“The continuation of unequal laws sends a message that our Government considers GLBT Australians to be of lesser value than other citizens and not worthy of the same rights,” Parkhill said.
“Unequal marriage laws are also harmful to the children and families of same-sex couples.”
Australia’s National LGBT Health Alliance said it’s concerned the ongoing ban on gay marriage is having a negative impact on the GLBTI community.
“Denying same-sex marriage devalues LGBT people regardless of whether they even want to get married,” Alliance executive director Gabi Rosenstreich said.
“It has a negative impact on mental health, contributing to the high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide amongst sexuality, sex and gender diverse Australians.”
Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Alex Greenwich said the fight for same-sex marriage is far from over.
“Kevin Rudd’s obsession with opposing full equality for same-sex couples leaves us with no choice but to make marriage equality a key issue in the run-up to the next federal election.”
NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby convenor Benjamin Keats said the Committee’s recommendations are out of step with recent advances in same-sex couples’ rights in Australia.
“There is no valid reason to deny same-sex couples formal and symbolic recognition extended to heterosexual couples,” Keats said.
“It is time that all sides of politics caught up with community attitudes and made a commitment to full relationship equality.”
Rights activists were left with some positive news, however. The Committee called on the federal Government to ensure all states and territories have consistent relationship schemes for same-sex couples. It also recommended lifting the ban on providing official documents required by some countries for Australian nationals to marry a same-sex partner overseas.
There were no recommendations to recognise same-sex marriages conducted overseas.

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