Australian opposition party proposes gay marriage law

Jun 1, 2015, 3:12 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s political opposition hopes to harness momentum from the Irish gay marriage referendum after it proposed a law Monday that would recognize same-sex marriages, which the country’s conservative prime minister opposes.

Center-left Labor Party leader Bill Shorten became the first leader of a major Australian political party to back a bill to overturn a national ban on gay marriage.

Gay rights advocates fear that government lawmakers will be reluctant to support the bill as such a law would be seen as a political victory for Shorten over Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a former Roman Catholic seminarian and a staunch opponent of marriage equality.

Shorten told Parliament the law would not compel religious clerics to officiate at same-sex marriages. He called on Abbott to allow lawmakers in his ruling Liberal Party a free vote, rather than require them to back the party’s line in opposing marriage equality.

“Our laws should be a mirror reflecting our great and generous country and our free, inclusive society,” Shorten said on introducing the bill.

Shorten’s deputy Tanya Plebersek seconded the bill, after no government lawmaker took up the offer to perform that official function as a gesture of bipartisanship support.

Abbott said his government was focused on Australia’s economic and national security rather than marriage law reform.

“Let’s see where the community debate goes. … There’s a range of views on both sides of the issue,” Abbott told reporters shortly before Shorten introduced his legislation.

There is no timetable set for a vote, but Labor hopes it will happen this year.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, who is in a lesbian relationship, said that the recent referendum in which 62 percent of Irish voters called for their constitution to be changed to allow same-sex marriage was an important trigger for a similar debate in Australia.

Opinion polls show that most Australians support gay marriage. Gay rights advocates say Australia is now the only English-speaking developed country to ban same-sex marriage after the Irish vote.

In 2004, the Parliament changed the Marriage Act with the unanimous support of the ruling conservative coalition and Labor to make it clear that only a man and a woman could marry.

But Labor has since changed its stance.

A draft law to allow same-sex marriage proposed by a junior Labor lawmaker in 2012 while Labor was in government was soundly rejected by the House of Representatives, 98 votes to 42.

Abbott was then opposition leader and the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard was gay marriage opponent.

Labor lawmakers were allowed to vote according to their consciences, while Liberal lawmakers were required to oppose marriage equality.

Abbott says the party has yet to decide whether his party’s lawmakers would he allowed a free vote when the issue next comes up in Parliament.

Analysts say that since Abbott’s authority was weakened by a leadership challenge from within his party in February, he may be unlikely to anger marriage equality advocates within government ranks by denying them a free vote.

Even with all lawmakers allowed a free vote, gay rights advocates say the result would be close.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

People search a collapsed building following an earthquake in Azmarin town, Idlib province, norther...
Associated Press

Death toll soars after powerful earthquake rocks Turkey and Syria

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday, killing and injuring thousands of people.
1 day ago
FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

The new sanctions create uncertainty about prices as the 27-nation European Union finds new supplies of diesel from the U.S., Middle East and India.
2 days ago
(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
4 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
4 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Australian opposition party proposes gay marriage law