Today, while the Western hemisphere was asleep, the Australian Labor Party took the decision that has been building for months, and overwhelmingly supported a motion to amend the formal party policy, to provide backing for marriage equality.
This does not mean that Australia will necessarily get the enabling legislation passed any time soon. In a parallel decision, but by a narrower margin, the party conference also agreed that the party will allow a conscience vote when the matter comes before Parliament. Some MP's, including the Prime Minister, will use this latitude against. Without the support of some opposition MP's, the measure will certainly fail. The question then becomes, will the opposition similarly allow a conscience vote, and if they do, how many will vote in conscience in favour? It's too soon to tell.
What we do know, is that there will be a bill introduced to Parliament, and the opposition will be forced to take a stand - just as the ALP has done. With a comfortable majority of Australian voters have supporting equality, blanket resistance by the opposition is sure to lose them votes. Whether it comes next year, or later, marriage equality is now clearly on the way in Australia.
The Labor Party has voted resoundingly to change its policy to one of supporting gay marriage.But federal MPs will not be forced to support gay marriage when the issue comes before Parliament next year because the party also voted to endorse a conscience vote for its politicians.The votes were held this morning after passionate debate for and against the changes at the ALP national conference in Sydney.The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had called for a conscience vote and personally moved the amendment backing this.
Had this been defeated, Ms Gillard’s leadership would have suffered a serious blow. She dodged a bullet when the conscience vote was endorsed by 208 votes to 184.The platform change endorsed today says ‘‘Labor will amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life’’.The amendments to the platform also exclude the churches and other religious organisations from having to marry gay people if they do not want to.-full report at Sydney Morning Herald.