Senate to debate step towards marriage equality

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says a bill to recognise same-sex marriages performed overseas is an important step to marriage equality. Photo: Randy LarcombeThe Greens’ international same-sex marriage bill faces the Senate on Thursday, with debate and a vote due on recognising the marriages of gay and lesbian Australians who wed overseas.

”It’s an important step towards marriage equality,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who out forward the bill, told Fairfax Media on Thursday morning.

”We have thousands of couples now living in Australia who’ve gone overseas and gotten married . . . and they arrive back home at Sydney International Airport and all of a sudden they have to check their marriage at the customs gate.”

Thursday’s bill would change a section of the Marriage Act that states that ”certain unions are not marriages”.

The Act says that foreign weddings between ”a man and another man” and ”a woman and another woman . . . must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia”.

Support for marriage equality is growing, not just in the Parliament, but significantly within the Australian public. MPs on both sides of politics support same-sex marriage but both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott remain personally opposed.

Kevin Rudd recently reconciled his Christian faith with allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, saying he had changed his mind and would now support marriage equality.

While Labor allows their MPs to vote according to their conscience on same-sex marriage, Mr Abbott has refused to allow a free vote within the Coalition.

This is despite party members including Kelly O’Dwyer, Malcolm Turnbull, Wyatt Roy, Simon Birmingham and Sue Boyce all declaring their support for same-sex marriage.

Senator Hanson-Young said the ”ludicrous thing” about the issue of marriage equality in this Parliament is that ”you have Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott effectively standing in the way of these reforms happening”.

The senator believed there was more support for the legislation in the Senate than in the House of Representatives and she hoped support had grown further since the issue was debated last year.

”I hope that we can get a few more people across the line than we did last time,” she said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.