Australian lawmakers introduced on Monday two separate bills that essentially share the same goal: to lift the country’s ban on same-sex marriage while maintaining the right of religious institutions to deny recognition of such unions. However, party politics may mean that both bills have ahead of them a difficult path.
The AP reports that the first marriage equality bill was introduced by the Greens party, while the second was introduced by a Labor lawmaker. This follows Labor formally rescinding its opposition to gay marriage last year.
But why the separate bills? The Greens’ stance on several issues has earned them the stigma of being radical and, whether the title is deserved or not, this has meant that Labor lawmakers have decided not to cooperate on the issue of gay marriage even though their goal is, in this instance, essentially the same. Greens lawmakers, according to the AP, feel this will be to the detriment of the effort:
In introducing his party’s legislation, Greens lawmaker Adam Bandt told Parliament he was disappointed that Labor lawmakers had refused to cooperate on gay marriage.
“We know that as things stand, if either of these bills is put to a vote now, we know it will fail,” Bandt said.
Labor lawmaker Stephen Jones said his bill was more likely to win over his party’s lawmakers as well as the opposition. Many conservatives are particularly hostile toward Greens, whom they regard as too radical.
Jones said his bill “follows an international trend to end discrimination when it comes to marriage,” noting that around 10 countries and several U.S. states allow same-sex marriage.
Equality groups have nevertheless praised the introduction of the legislation. According to the AFP:
“The Jones bill demonstrates the immense momentum behind reform,” said Alex Greenwich, convenor of the Australian Marriage Equality lobby group.
“Three months ago the Labor Party was officially opposed to reform and now we have a Labor member leading the way towards equality.”
He described Monday’s events as a “milestone on the road to equality”.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains opposed to same-sex marriage and has said she would allow a “conscience vote” on the issue, meaning that lawmakers would be free to vote per their beliefs without risk of party retribution. While Labour has officially changed its stance, many of the party’s more conservative lawmakers are thought to be opposed to legalizing gay marriage.
A recent vote in the Tasmanian Lower House calling on the federal government to legalize marriage equality has renewed pressure on Australian legislators to act and make marriage equality a reality. Read more on that here.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.