Photo © 2012 AFP/AAP/Greg WOOD
Tasmania is set to go it alone on gay marriage after the state's ALP conference voted to introduce laws that could have wedding bells ringing by the end of the year.
Premier Lara Giddings received a standing ovation at the party's state conference after she spoke passionately in favour of a motion to introduce the country's first state-based gender-neutral marriage act.
"This was a last area of discrimination that was left, and we fundamentally believe that it's wrong that people do not have the same choices in life that the rest of us take for granted when it comes to marriage," Ms Giddings said.
"The time has now come for marriage equality to be part of our community."
Ms Giddings said the state government would look to introduce legislation before the end of the year if acts currently before the federal parliament fail.
Legal advice suggested that there was nothing to stop a state going it alone, she said.
A same-sex marriage act already has the support of the state's Greens, with whom the ALP shares power, but it would need to get past an upper house with 13 independents among its 15 members.
"I believe the community has reached that tipping point now where more people than not believe that this last form of discrimination should be removed," Ms Giddings said.
Gay rights activists and the Greens this year jointly launched a report that estimated the value to Tasmania of becoming the country's first gay-marriage destination at $100 million.
Not every Labor delegate was celebrating, though, with Senator Helen Polley telling reporters the party was getting ahead of itself.
"This is a bridge too far," Senator Polley said.
"I don't think we need to change the fundamental structure of the Australian community."
But activist Rodney Croome was delighted at the move.
"The message that Lara Giddings has sent the rest of the world today is that Tasmania has a heart, a heart that beats with courage and a heart that beats with love," Mr Croome said.
Brought to you by