In eloping to North America, Premier Nathan Rees was unknowingly following in the footsteps of increasing numbers of gay and lesbian Australians who’ve travelled to North America to access dignity denied at home.

In comparison, the Rees’ decision to fly 32,000 kilometres there and back seems to have more to do with avoiding a prying media.

In New York they lined up in the Manhattan Marriage Bureau alongside the high born and the unwashed for over an hour and paid $60 to access a right that heterosexuals take for granted the world over yet no gay Australian may yet enjoy the benefits of on their own soil.

They go to Canada, to Massachusetts and now Connecticut. For a while they went to California. Some are travelling to be married somewhere, anywhere, then return to wait for justice to arrive at home.

On Mr and Mrs Rees’ return the dignity of their pledge was immediately recognised by both the Commonwealth Government and the State of New South Wales, but Mister and Misters and Mrs and Mrses returning to our Premier’s state will be treated with no such dignity, nor does Reesy have plans to change that.

Our Premier travelled half a world away for a government-issued certificate and a civil ceremony in a registrar’s office. No priests involved.

That’s all the gay voters of New South Wales are asking for, yet his government won’t even countenance a registry.

Two years ago the New York State Assembly voted 85 to 61 to pass legislation granting marriage rights to gay and lesbian New Yorkers. Four of those yes votes came from Republicans.

Same-sex marriage will be legal in New York by 2010 at the latest.

If New York is good enough for Nathan, and gay marriage good enough for New York, surely a registry is good enough for New South Wales?

With the glacial pace of reform under successive Labor governments and the state in a shambles, even gay voters must be asking how much worse they could be.

Congratulations to the happy couple.

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