The NSW Labor Youth Council has voted 78 – 2 in favour of a motion urging the federal Government to support marriage equality.

At the council, NSW Young Labor president David Latham pledged to vote in favour of change to the Marriage Act as a delegate to the ALP National Conference in December.

Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Peter Furness (pictured) told the Star Observer the writing was on the wall for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“This adds to the overwhelming pressure on the federal Government in the lead-up to the ALP National Conference,” he said.

Two opponents of the motion argued that allowing same-sex couples to marry would alienate conservative low-income voters from Western Sydney who formed the core of Labor’s traditional support base.

A separate motion offering civil unions to all Australian couples and leaving it to churches to perform religious marriage rites was defeated, with only 10 delegates voting for it.

Furness said it was widely accepted that people wanted full marriage equality and did not wish to be treated as second-class citizens under the law.

“The civil union boat sailed a long time ago,” he said.

The most heated debate at the Youth Council was not on marriage equality itself, but that ALP members were denied a vote on the issue at the ALP State Conference in July.

Rainbow Labor co-convenor Jessica Epps said the vote sent a strong message to the senior party.

“It’s important that everyone be treated equally in the eyes of the law and to have the youth wing of the ALP support it with such a large majority is fantastic,” she said.

The council is a peak debating forum for the state Labor Party’s youth wing. Many of its members work closely with state and federal Labor MPs.


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