Australia

Tasmania lawmakers defer same-sex marriage debate to federal parliament

DESMOND RUTHERFORD [e]Special to LGBTQ Nation[m]

HOBART, Tasmania — A motion to revive the debate over same-sex marriage in Tasmania’s parliament was defeated in the Upper House Legislative Council Tuesday, as local MP’s voted to leave the question up to the Federal Parliament in Canberra.

Last year the MPs voted 8-6 to throw out a private member’s bill for state-based same-sex marriage, and Tuesday’s vote makes the bid to enact a marriage equality law the second failure in two years.

TasmaniaThe effort to revive the debate was spearheaded by the independent Member for Murchison, Ruth Forrest, who urged 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 favor, but to do what is right,” she said.

But another independent Member opposed to the issue of same-sex marriage told the Legislative Council that the issue was best left to federal politicians.

“This is a national matter in my opinion, and I feel very strongly about that,” Ivan Dean said.

Rodney Croome, a spokesman for Australians for Marriage Equality said he 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 legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia, applauded Tuesday’s result. Spokesman Guy Barnett said that the parliamentarians voted to preserve the sanctity of marriage.

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“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 legalizing same-sex marriage.

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.

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