Greens gay state motion fails

A GREENS motion to stop the Commonwealth challenging marriage equality laws made by state parliaments has failed in the Senate.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s motion calling on the Gillard government to rule out a Commonwealth challenge of any state laws made on gay marriage was defeated 38 votes to 10 on Thursday.

Senator Hanson-Young said the states were being kept in the dark by the Commonwealth on the legality of any gay marriage reforms.

“Today the Gillard Government refused to let the states get on with the business of representing the majority of Australian people who support marriage equality without the fear of a legal challenge from the Commonwealth,” Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said later.

“The old parties of Labor and the Coalition have failed to show leadership in supporting marriage equality and today I called on (Prime Minister) Julia Gillard to at least get out of the way.”

The Senate last month followed the lower house in rejecting same-sex marriage laws in two similar bills put by Labor MPs.

“The prime minister stood in the way when the vote was before the federal government and now, by not ruling out a Commonwealth challenge of state legislation, Julia Gillard is choosing to further hinder this inevitable reform,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

Late last month the Tasmanian upper house voted down same-sex marriage legislation, with a majority of the objections to the bill based on concerns about its constitutionality and the possibility Tasmania could face a costly High Court challenge.

But the bill could return to the upper house if a parliamentary committee to examine legal concerns is established.

The South Australian Greens have a bill before the South Australian parliament and both Labor and the coalition there have indicated they will allow their members a conscience vote on the issue.



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