A cross-party group of New South Wales MPs have joined forces in an attempt to introduce marriage equality in the state.
The National’s Trevor Khan, Liberal’s Bruce Notley-Smith, the Greens’ Cate Faehrmann, Labor’s Penny Sharpe, and Sydney Independent Clover Moore are hoping to progress marriage equality through the NSW Parliament.
“We will be working together to develop a bill that will allow same sex couples in NSW to marry,” a statement put out by the group said.
“All couples in NSW should be treated equally before the law.
“Marriage equality is the final area of the law that discriminates against GLBTI couples. We want to change that.”
The groups said the best result in delivering marriage equality would be for the federal Parliament to pass one of the bills currently before it, but that they recognise that that this may not be achieved the first time.
“If the bills in the federal Parliament are not successful we will follow Members of Parliament in Tasmania, South Australia, the ACT and Western Australia in pursuing state based marriage equality,” the statement continued.
“In recent years, NSW parliamentarians have shown that by working together we can remove discrimination against GLBTI couples. Same sex couples are now treated equally in every area of NSW law. It is time to finish the job.
“We also welcome any other NSW MPs who want to work to progress marriage equality through the NSW Parliament.”
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has previously said that he would allow Coalition MPs a conscience vote on any same-sex marriage bill submitted to state Parliament.
The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) welcomed today’s announcement.
“We welcome the formation of this working party as a significant step forward to achieving legal equality for same-sex couples, and ending unjust discrimination,” GLRL co-convenor Dr Justin Koonin said.
“Marriage equality is a matter of fairness which cuts across political divides, and this is illustrated in the collaborative approach the working party is taking.”
GLRL co-convenor Lainie Arnold hoped the statement would encourage federal politicians to vote in favour of bills currently before Parliament.
“This statement reinforces the continued and growing support for recognition of marriage for gay and lesbian Australians on a state and federal level. I hope to see many more members of parliament join the majority of Australians in supporting these reforms,” Arnold said.
“With Premier Barry O’Farrell and Opposition Leader John Robertson both supporting free votes on marriage equality for their respective parties, we welcome the impending legal recognition of same-sex couples in New South Wales in the form of marriage.”
NSW Rainbow Labor co-convenors Ashley Ubrihien and Cathy Brown said the announcement was positive news for LGTBI people and their families in NSW.
“The people of NSW recognise that marriage is an important and valued institution that enables couples to express their love and commitment for each other,” Brown said.
“That’s why it’s important we make sure all couples have the opportunity to celebrate their love and commitment with their family and friends and have their relationships fully recognised by our laws.”
Ubrihien called on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to allow federal Coalition MPs a conscience vote on marriage equality like O’Farrell has done.