August 14, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Earlier this month, I wrote that Tasmania looked likely to become the first Australian state to offer equal marriage rights to gays and lesbians following a speech by Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings to her party conference vowing to introduce marriage equality legislation in the government’s next term. This week, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill followed Giddings’s lead, according to The Australian, telling a rally in Adelaide that he will push for marriage equality in his state:
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.”
Also this week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard surprised Australia’s LGBT community by agreeing to deliver the keynote speech at a national meeting of the Australian Christian Lobby, an anti-gay group that has made statements in the past comparing gays and lesbians to pedophiles and Nazis.
Marriage equality at the national level in Australia faces a major hurdle in Prime Minister Gillard, who opposes equal marriage rights even though her majority Labor Party changed its platform last year to include marriage equality. Because of Australia’s parliamentary system, it is incredibly difficult for marriage legislation to pass without Gillard’s stamp of approval, which is why state-level governments are stepping in to be at the forefront of LGBT equality in the country.