ADELAIDE, South Australia — The South Australia State Parliament’s lower house, in a voice roll-call on Thursday, voted down a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage at a state level for the first time in Australia.
The measure had the support of SA’s Premier Jay Weatherill, who remarked after the vote to his fellow parliamentarians that continuing to forbid marriage for same-sex couples was “a layer of discrimination that will be eventually removed.”
Opposition MPs from the Liberal and National parties argued it was unconstitutional for a state to rule on same-sex marriage, and that the issue belonged in the federal arena. Some of those MP’s voiced concerns that a state gay marriage law would face a costly High Court challenge.
Former Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said she supported gay marriage, but wanted it legalized at the federal level.
“I indeed believe that it will come,” she said. “I absolutely … want the Federal Government to legislate to recognize same-sex marriage in this country.”
Redmond said she would not support the state bill because it was “nothing but an attempt to politicize something which can’t be decided by this Parliament.”
Labor Party MP Susan Close, who co-authored the measure, had argued that under the country’s constitution it was within South Australia’s right to approve the law.
Only 19 of the Lower House’s 47 MPs voted for the bill.
Additionally, in the latest census, 33,700 couples reported living together in a same-sex relationship — 17,600 male couples and 16,100 female couples.
Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said advocates remained hopeful that same-sex couples will soon be able to legally marry in South Australia despite Thursday’s vote.
A similar bill is currently pending before the upper body.