Australia’s ruling party voted Friday in favor of marriage equality.
The Labor Party vote was overwhelming after Prime Minister Julia Gillard ordered factional bosses to let their members vote how they chose. This allowed much of the right-wing of the party to support the change to the party’s platform to amend Australia’s Marriage Act.
Gillard and a number of other leaders, however, also pushed for an agreement that MPs, when the issue comes up in Parliament, be allowed a conscience vote. That won the day, but barely, after a large number of delegates ignored the PM’s lead, given when she herself moved the motion.
The debate was emotional, with the marriage equality motion moved by the Fiance Minister Penny Wong, who has said she wants to marry her partner, Sophie Allouache, with whom she’s having a baby, due any day now.
But it was also marked by heckling from those opposed to marriage equality, largely from the Catholic, trade union wing. A number of MPs come from that wing and can be expected to vote against a private member’s bill for marriage equality, expected to be introduced in parliament next year.
As the conservative opposition is expected to vote against this as a block, this means it may not have the numbers in the parliament. But there is also pressure on the opposition leader, the staunch Catholic Tony Abbott, to also allow a conscience vote, and a number of his party’s MPs are likely to cross the floor and support marriage equality.
The Conference also removed a ban on the official documentation Australian same-sex partners need to marry overseas.
Until now, the Australian Government refused to issue same-sex partners seeking to marry in other countries with the certificate they require to show they are not already married in Australia.
Australian Marriage Equality Campaign Director, Rodney Croome, said the change will make a real difference to many partners.
“Many gay and lesbians Australians travel overseas to marry because they can’t marry here, but when they discover the Australian Government won’t give them the required paperwork, weddings plans have to be cancelled and the partners concerned continue to experience the legal and social disadvantages of not being able to marry”, Croome said.
Video: Interviews with Dr Kerryn Phelps and Rodney Croome at the Australian Gay and Lesbian Marriage Equality Rally in Sydney, December 3.
In Cancun, a legal loophole allowed two same-sex couples to get married on November 28.
November 30, Novelo and Areli Castro Garcia de Alba, both natives of the Mexican capital, and Sergio Arturo Monje Cruz and Manuel Reyes Chale de la Fuente from the cities of Merida and Tabasco, respectively, were officially granted official marriage licenses.
Novelo said that they managed to wed thanks to a legal loophole in the state of Quintana Roo’s Civil Law, which simply refers to “persons interested in contracting matrimony,” without specifying their sex. However, it had taken two months to find a local registry office prepared to marry them.
Mexico City’s legislative assembly legalized same-sex marriages in March 2010.
Picture from Australian Gay and Lesbian Marriage Equality Rally in Sydney, December 3 by Kaptain Kobold