LUKE Foley’s record in voting against same sex marriage will plague the newly-crowned NSW opposition leader “just like it plagued Julia Gillard,” a fellow Parliamentarian has said.

Labor’s leader in the state Legislative Council, or upper house, was confirmed today as the new leader of the party in NSW after standing unopposed.

Foley replaced John Robertson who resigned just before Christmas following the emergence of a letter he wrote in 2011 advocating on behalf of Sydney siege killer Man Haron Monis.

Robertson, who has a gay son, was in favour of marriage equality.

While Foley has voted in favour of adoption for same-sex parents, the axing of the “gay panic” legal defence and the expungement of historical consensual gay sex convictions, he has voted against measures in support of same-sex marriage despite it being official NSW Labor policy following its championing by shadow transport minister Penny Sharpe.

Speaking in the upper house in 2012, Foley said while he had “no moral objection to homosexuality… and would never devalue the worth of homosexual relationships”, nevertheless, he believed “that homosexual relationships are different to a married relationship”.

Foley added that a “procreative relationship open to the possibility of children” was an “essential feature of marriage”.

He said that he instead favoured civil partnerships for gay couples.

Talking to the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, the new Labor leader said he aligned himself with Labor’s “traditional values” and said he thought it important that “kids grow up with a male role model”.

In November 2013, Foley voted against an upper house bill on the legalisation of same-sex marriage which failed by just two votes.

Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich said if Foley had voted in favour, the bill would have passed as upper house Liberal MP Don Harwin, who came out in November, would in all likelihood have used his casting vote as president of the house for marriage equality.

“A lot of people have not forgiven Luke Foley for opposing same-sex marriage,” Greenwich told the Star Observer.

“To have a Labor leader on the left who opposes same-sex marriage is so confusing and damaging it will plague Luke Foley just like it plagued Julia Gillard.”

Greenwich said Foley was “out of touch with his party and the people of NSW” and that the state had gone from having both major party leaders in favour of same sex marriage to both against in the space of just eight months.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national director Rodney Croome said Foley was “out of step with Labor values and the march of history,” citing Crosby/Textor research that showed 75 per cent of people in NSW were in favour of marriage equality.

Croome said he hoped Foley’s stance “evolves soon” and that he would be working to ensure the opposition leader heard “compelling voices” in favour of marriage equality.

“These voices need to come from western Sydney and regional NSW so he can see this is a reform supported right across the state, not just in Paddington and Surry Hills,” Croome said.

Sharpe — who is standing as the Labor candidate for the newly-created Newtown electorate and is a long-time marriage equality campaigner — noted Foley’s pro-LGBTI voting record in areas other than gay marriage and said he was the “best person” to lead the party, giving “Labor the best chance of victory” in the March state election.

She said Foley was “under no illusion about my views about marriage equality,” and the two had “spoken at length about these issues and we will continue to do so”.

Sharpe added that the marriage equality debate had largely moved to a federal level but she was nevertheless “optimistic that as the nature of the debate has changed over the years, so will [Foley’s] view”.

The Star Observer has contacted Luke Foley’s office for a comment.

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