The ALP National Conference dropped state-based relationship registers from the party’s platform — a policy derided by much of the gay and lesbian community — but the Rudd Government has decided to keep it anyway.
Responding to questions on notice at the Senate Budget Estimates hearings, the Attorney-General’s Department revealed registers are still official policy.
“The Government supports a nationally consistent state and territory-based system for the registration of committed adult relationships that are not marriages,” the department stated.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young had asked the department what the Government thought of civil unions and whether it would attempt to overturn such laws if introduced by a state or territory.
The ACT Greens may test the Government’s patience for same-sex recognition by introducing a bill to give same-sex couples in Canberra a ceremony when registering their partnership. The bill was introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly last week, but could be overridden by the Federal Government if passed. The bill will be debated in September.
When asked by the Star what the Government’s basis for opposing civil unions was — constitutional validity or policy reasons — a spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland simply referred to the marriage policy.
“The Government believes that marriage, as defined in the Marriage Act, is between a man and woman,” the spokesman said last week.
The Labor Government is free to propose any scheme of same-sex relationship recognition, as the new ALP platform no longer directly forbids any particular scheme — marriage, federal civil unions or state registers.
Outgoing Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Emily Gray said it was a great disappointment the Government refused to take marriage equality more seriously.

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