Australia's dominant party has voted to
endorse gay marriage.
At its annual conference in Sydney, the
Australian Labor Party (ALP) agreed to alter its long-standing party
platform on the issue.
But the impact of the vote was diluted
when the party also endorsed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's motion to
allow lawmakers to make a “conscience vote” on bills related to
gay marriage, which allows lawmakers to vote as they please rather
than the party line.
Despite that setback, gay marriage
proponents praised the move.
“The momentum toward achieving
marriage equality is unstoppable,” Australian Marriage Equality
national convener Alex Greenwich told the AP. “A major obstacle to
reform has been removed and we are prepared to face the new challenge
we have been given of achieving reform with a Labor conscience vote.”
Lobbying for the change were ACT Deputy
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Finance Minister Penny Wong.
“I can see no good argument for
allowing only opposite sex couples to formalize and celebrate their
relationships through marriage and to deny that to same-sex couples,”
Barr told conference attendees.
“If instead lesser rights were
proposed on the basis of race or age or class or any other attribute
there would not be a person in this hall who would countenance it,”
Within hours of the vote, Labor
backbencher Stephen Jones announced he would introduce a private
members bill to legalize gay marriage in Australia.