Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Tasmanian Parliament's Upper House defers same-sex marriage to Federal Parliament
By Desmond Rutherford | HOBART, Tasmania -- A motion to revive the debate over same-sex marriage in Tasmania's local parliament was defeated in a vote in the Upper House Legislative Council Tuesday, as the local MP's voted to leave the question up to the Federal Parliament in Canberra. 
Last year the MPs voted eight to six to throw out a private member's bill for state-based gay marriage, and Tuesday's vote makes the bid to enact a same-sex marriage law the second failure in two years.
The effort to revive the debate over bringing a bill was spearheaded by the independent Member for Murchison, Ruth Forrest, who urged her colleagues to consider the recent spate of same-sex marriage laws recently enacted in France and New Zealand.
"It is our job as lawmakers to show neither fear nor favour, but to do what is right," she said.
However, another independent Member opposed to the issue of same-sex arraignment told Legislative Council that the same-sex marriage debate was best left to federal politicians.
"This is a national matter in my opinion, and I feel very strongly about that," Ivan Dean said.
A spokesman for Australians for Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, thinks it is only a matter of time before gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry in Tasmania.
"Tens of thousands of Tasmanians passionately want this reform and will continue the debate regardless of what the Upper House thinks," he said.
The Save Marriage Coalition, which opposes any same-sex marriage in Australia, applauded Tuesday's result. Spokesman Guy Barnett said that the parliamentarians voted to preserve the sanctity of marriage.
"Marriage has been around for hundreds and thousands of years, it's an institution," he said, adding "Same-sex marriage denies a child the right to both a mother and father, and both mums and dads are important." 
Tasmania's actions come on the heels of last week's actions by the local parliament of the Australian Capital Territory, which last week became the first jurisdiction in Australia to pass a law legalising same-sex marriages.
The government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott however, is suing the ACT government in the country's high court arguing that the law in ACT is not consistent with the Commonwealth Marriage Act, only the Federal Parliament has the constitutional ability to pass same-sex marriage for Australia which Abbot himself is personally opposed to.
The government lawyers are seeking an expedited hearing in the high court to prevent same-sex couples from marrying in the ACT.