SBS News

Could the latest gay marriage bill finally be the one?

This could be the moment all Australian adults are allowed to have their relationships recognised, Australian Marriage Equality believes.

By Jason Thomas

27 NOV 2014

A bill introduced into the Australian Senate yesterday seeks to end the definition of marriage as a heterosexual union. It could be the moment Australia allows all adults to have their relationships recognised, Australia Marriage Equality believes.The ability to marry another consenting adult is a human right, AME spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh told SBS."It's the first opportunity that we've had from a libertarian perspective," he said."Forcing people to travel overseas to have their relationships recognised, for them to Australia where their marriages are not recognised, was not good enough."Same sex marriage bill introduced to the SenateLiberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm who tabled the bill yesterday insists government should not interfere with people’s married lives.“It is the right to live your life as you choose and not have the government impose a particular view on you,” Senator Leyonhjelm said in a speech on Tuesday. The Freedom to Marry Bill 2014 seeks to overturn the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The issue affects countless Australians. There were more than 30,000 same sex couples in 2011, the last Australian Census revealed.Graph source: ABSPrime Minister Tony Abbott recently told Senator Leyonhjelm (of the Liberal Democratic Party) he was opposed to same sex marriage, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) which has consistently campaigned agaisnt gay rights has called on the Liberal Party to uphold marriage between a man and a woman."The real conscience issue here is whether or not a child has a right to their biological mother and father," ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said.Senator Leyonhjelm believes people have a right to marry whomever they choose, and that it is not the government’s business.“Fairly obviously, we do not believe we need a marriage certificate issued by the government to confirm that we are married,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.“All my bill does is prevent the government from stopping two people from getting married on the grounds that they are not a man and a woman.”Marriage equality around the world

At-a-glance: Same-sex marriage around the world

This map from Freedom To Marry shows the 19 countries worldwide that allow marriage between same sex couples. Those countries include South Africa, Portugal and Brazil.Map source: Freedom To Marry Across the United States, 35 states allow same-sex marriage. Map source: Freedom To Marry

Sydney Morning Herald Lisa Cox- National political reporter

July 15 2014

Poll shows growing support for same-sex marriage

Support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, according to a survey by the Liberal Party's own pollster.

A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote.

Liberal Party polling found that 72 per cent want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote on the matter.

It comes a day after new Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm challenged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his MPs a free vote on same-sex marriage and said he would move a private member's bill to amend the federal marriage act as soon as that happened.

The Crosby Textor poll is expected to bring a renewed push from marriage equality advocates, who will begin targeting Coalition MPs in earnest after growing public support for same-sex marriage and Sunday's widely publicised interview with Ian Thorpe, in which Australia's greatest Olympian confirmed he was gay.

The survey by the Liberal Party's national pollster finds support for marriage equality is increasing among Australians, up from 65 per cent in a Nielsen poll last August.

It shows opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed, with just one in five Australians or 21 per cent opposed, marking Parliament as increasingly out of step with the views of the majority of Australians.

According to the poll, support for same-sex marriage is now higher in Australia than it was in any other country, including New Zealand and Great Britain, when overseas parliaments have passed marriage equality laws.

The poll found that a majority of voters across a range of demographics and in almost every age group backed marriage reform.

A majority of respondents in each Australian state said they wanted to see marriage equality, as did a majority of Australians who identified with major religions, including Catholic, Anglican and non-Christian religions.

An overwhelming 85 per cent of respondents with children were pro-marriage equality.

The lowest results came from Australians aged over 65, at 48 per cent, and men over 55, at 42 per cent, but according to Crosby Textor more people in those groups were in favour of marriage equality than were opposed, with a significant proportion saying they were undecided.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on Monday that the time had come for the Parliament to act.

She said the first thing MPs could do was to support a bill to allow legal recognition in Australia of same-sex marriages entered into by Australian couples overseas.

The matter is the subject of a Senate inquiry, which is due to report in September.

Fairfax Media revealed last week that Australian same-sex couples wanting to marry in British consulates in Australia are facing extraordinary legal hurdles because of a lack legal recognition for overseas same-sex marriages and the Parliament's failure to move on marriage reform.

''The new poll released today shows that overwhelmingly the majority of Australians want to see equality before the law,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

Labor frontbencher Penny Wong, who is openly gay, believes Australia is edging towards allowing gay marriage.

Senator Wong says Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek has also flagged introducing a private member's bill on gay marriage, however, any bill’s success was contingent on Mr Abbott allowing a conscience vote for coalition MPs.

''We don't want this to fail again - we want a debate which has the capacity of a bill passing, and marriage equality being achieved,'' Senator Wong told ABC radio on Monday.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said: "With Australians across all key demographics supporting marriage equality in record numbers, it's fair to say the public has made up its mind, the community debate has been won, and it's time for politicians to act."

After the federal government won a High Court Challenge to same-sex marriage laws in the ACT last year, marriage equality advocates drew up a hit list of 50 MPs in the federal Parliament they thought could be persuaded to support marriage equality, including senior ministers Julie Bishop, Joe Hockey and Christopher Pyne.

Mr Abbott has said any amendment to the Marriage Act will be a matter for the Coalition party room.

The Australian

Tasmania, SA to allow gay marriage August 11, 2012 6:32PM

THE premiers of South Australia and Tasmania have told gay rights supporters they will legislate for same-sex marriage regardless of what federal parliament does.

Thousands of demonstrators have marched in seven Australian cities almost eight years after the Howard government passed the Marriage Amendment Bill to deny gay couples marriage rights. But with two marriage equality bills before federal parliament, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill told a rally in Adelaide he would legislate for gay marriage at a state level.On the steps of Parliament House, Mr Weatherill said he would support a Greens bill and allow Labor MPs a conscience vote."People should be entitled to express their own identity in any way they wish and the law shouldn't become a barrier to prevent them from doing that," he said."So, from my perspective, it's a simple question of the dignity of the individual. "People should be entitled to express their identity in any way they wish and the law shouldn't get in the way." Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings addressed a rally in Hobart after announcing last week that her state would legislate its own marriage laws and be prepared for a High Court challenge. Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore urged federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to allow Liberal MPs a conscience vote."He should vote to enable a new sister-in-law to become part of his family," Ms Moore told a 300-strong crowd braving wet and windy conditions in eastern Sydney's Oxford Street gay district."Because legislating for marriage equality brings families together. He should realise that."Mr Abbott's sister Christine Forster, who is in a lesbian relationship, is running for City of Sydney Council on the Liberal Party ticket and supports gay marriage.

In Melbourne, federal Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt told thousands of demonstrators the Australian electorate favoured gay marriage."People are very relaxed about two people who love each other getting married regardless of their gender or sexuality," Mr Bandt said."It's about time the rest of the Australian parliament caught up with the Australian public."In Brisbane, federal Labor MP Graham Perrett told about 2000 demonstrators that "equal love belongs to all Queenslanders and all Australians" and would prevent young gay people from harming themselves. Mr Perrett, who has two gay brothers, chaired a parliamentary committee examining bills which propose changing the federal Marriage Act. In the ACT, Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the territory's Civil Unions Bill was set to pass the Legislative Assembly when debated next week.The Greens had previously hesitated to support the bill on grounds it could undercut the push for a national marriage equality law but are now backing the proposal. The ACT passed civil union laws in 2006 but they were overturned by the Howard government. Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich told the Sydney rally that individual states and territories could legislate gay marriage "if the federal government fails the aspirations of our nation". In June, a Senate committee recommended that federal parliament pass legislation to allow same-sex marriage. We have yet to know the verdict............