Australian Marriage Equality (AME) have called on the Australian Prime Minister to follow her US counterpart’s lead in softening her opposition to same-sex marriage.

Last week President Barack Obama declared the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by the Clinton Administration to prevent federal benefits from going to married same-sex couples, unconstitutional.

On February 23, US Attorney General Eric Holder told media, “The President has concluded that … classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny.”

“The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.”

As a result the US Department of Justice will no longer defend DOMA in court and the issue falls to the US Congress.

AME national convenor Alex Greenwich said the move by the Obama Administration added pressure on Julia Gillard to take a more constructive approach on the issue.

“We acknowledge that the Prime Minister wants to have a fully-fledged debate on marriage equality at the ALP National Conference later this year, but there’s several things she can do right now”, Greenwich said.

“These include removing the bureaucratic barriers to gay and lesbian Australians marrying overseas, launching a Law Reform Commission inquiry into the legal aspects of marriage equality, and meeting proponents of reform so we can put our case to her directly.”

In 2009, a Senate inquiry recommended a Law Reform Commission inquiry into same-sex marriage and that the Government should provide gay and lesbian Australians with the documentation they need to marry overseas.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott recently met with two proponents of same-sex marriage. But the Prime Minister has ignored similar requests.

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