Tony_Abbott_-_2010With a new Coalition Government in power yet more MPs than ever coming out in support of marriage equality, and the prospect of state or territory-based same-sex marriage laws becoming more likely, Australian Marriage Equality (AME) will hold a forum this week featuring representatives of all major parties to discuss the future of the reform.

The forum at Darlinghurst’s Beauchamp Hotel on Wednesday, October 2 will be hosted by former Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Chairman Peter Urmson, and include a panel featuring AWU National Secretary Paul Howes, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and City of Sydney Liberal councillor Christine Forster.

They will be joined by AME’s deputy national director Ivan Hinton and Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who also holds the position of chair for AME.

The event comes as the ACT inches closer to history as the first Australian state or territory to legalise same-sex marriage. Similar moves are mooted in the near future for NSW and Tasmania as well.

Soon after marriage equality legislation was introduced into ACT’s Parliament less than a fortnight ago, the territory bill was put under scrutiny by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who suggested his federal government will consider over-riding the laws.

“The ACT is entitled to do what it can within the law,” Abbott said.

“As you know, under the constitution the Commonwealth has responsibility for marriage and the Attorney-General will be seeking advice on precisely how far the ACT can go on this.”

Speaking to the Star Observer this week, Urmson said in a situation similar to the United States, it could be the states and territories that step up to take the lead on the issue.

“We probably have a better hope of sustainable success in the short term through actions that could be taken through Tasmania and NSW than anything else that’s on the table at the moment,” Urmson said.

“It could soon turn into a game from a legal perspective and becoming a state versus federal issue. Ultimately, we are looking for absolute equality and that will happen at a federal level.”

Urmson said it was important supporters of marriage equality and members of the LGBTI community did not get too downhearted with the prospects of reform, or lack thereof, in the federal arena during this current term of government.

“We’re actually in a much stronger and better position with the support we now have with the Liberal Party that we have ever had before,” he told the Star Observer.

“We have got more support in the Liberal Party in this term with new MPs than what we had previously. Whilst that may translate into meaning not an awful lot if they don’t have a conscience vote it still doesn’t negate the fact that we actually physically now have more supporters at a federal level in the Liberal Party.”

INFO: ‘Future of Marriage Equality’ forum, 5.30pm-7pm, Wednesday, October 2, Beauchamp Hotel, Darlinghurst. Click here to RSVP.

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