The Victorian ALP has become the second state branch of the Labor Party to vote in favour of the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia.
The Tasmanian state conference voted in favour of marriage equality in July, while the Queensland branch of the party has supported the implementation of statewide relationship registers since 2008 but has yet to make any move towards doing so.
The NSW Labor Party held its annual State Conference in Sydney a fortnight ago but failed to pass any resolutions or make any changes to its platform on GLBT rights.
The Victorian Labor Party also voted to tell the “Commonwealth Government not to override the ACT” in its legislating for civil unions with official ceremonies.
GLBT rights advocates have praised the near unanimous vote at the conference, with only one rural delegate voting against the motion.
Activists claim the decision sends a powerful message to the Rudd Government to drop its opposition to same-sex marriage and stay its hand in intervening in the ACT.
“What we are seeing is a growing revolt in ALP ranks to affirm traditional Labor values like equality, and opposing the disproportionate influence of the religious right,” Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Alex Greenwich said.
“Grassroots delegates of the Labor Party are clearly in touch with the fact that the majority of Australians support this reform, and now they are demanding Kevin Rudd also heed public opinion.”
John Kloprogge of Equal Love Canberra said, “What is extraordinary about this development is not that the Victorian ALP state conference supports marriage equality, but that the Rudd Labor Government continues to lag behind.”
On the same weekend as the Victorian Labor Party was voting in favour of GLBT equality, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was addressing the members of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).
The ACL has threatened that Federal Labor will lose tens of thousands of votes if it does not quash the ACT Bill.
ACL head Jim Wallace had been expecting Rudd to address the issue in his speech but the Prime Minister made no mention of GLBT issues.
Instead Rudd dedicated his time to praising the placement of religious chaplains in public schools, announcing an additional $42 million in funding for the program for the next two years.
All state and federal branches of the Greens support full marriage equality and the Western Australian Nationals have supported civil unions in their platform since 2006.
Federal Labor senators Ian Hunter (South Australia) and Louise Pratt (Western Australia) have been vocal in their support for Federal marriage equality.