Last Wednesday the Victorian Legislative Assembly voted to pass the Brumby Government’s Relationships Bill – making Victoria the first mainland state to honour Rudd’s pledge of federally recognised, nationwide state relationship schemes.

A small step forward – though to be fair, Labor in Victoria already planned to implement its scheme before this promise was made.

With a Labor majority of 55 of the 88 seats in the Assembly, and Liberal leader Ted Baillieu allowing a conscience vote on his side it was a foregone conclusion the Bill would pass. Most Opposition MPs still voted against the bill, but that Baillieu voted for it gave the day an air of bipartisanship.

When the Bill reaches the Victorian Legislative Council its passage is also assured, with Greens in the balance of power giving the Government a workable majority in this house too.

Predictably, debate prior to the vote saw a number of MPs determined to mark their place in history as stumbling blocks to unstoppable progress on human rights rather than getting out of the way.

Most bizarre were the ramblings of Liberal Murray Thompson who managed to bring both Old and New Testaments into the debate alongside mentions of paedophilia, lesbian killers, gang rapes, sex changes, human trafficking, multi-million dollar sexual harassment suits, and the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.

The connection of these to a Bill which provides no new rights, covers law abiding citizens and only makes existing ones easier to access is murky to say the least.

And Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan wheeled out the tired tactic of dismissing a state-based gay rights reform as a stalking horse for gay marriage – even though it’s a federal issue.

Following the introduction of the ACT’s Civil Unions, I predict WA will be the next to go – its Greens, National and Labor state party conferences all passed motions in support of civil unions in 2006 – though this is yet to translate to parliamentary action.

SA will probably follow that, leaving NSW to fight it out for last place in the gay equality stakes with the NT and Queensland for years to come and probably right through the 2010s.

This despite NSW Labor having the numbers to do it right now if they wanted – with the help and blessing of our four Greens MPs.

It seems the only thing that will speed up reform here are significant changes to the personalities heading NSW Labor or to add to these Greens in parliament.

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