Political leaders in the Australian state of Tasmania are preparing to consider a bill which would make it the country's first to legalize gay marriage.

“We will be leading the way for the rest of Australia to follow,” Tasmania's Premier Lara Giddings told a ruling state Labor Party conference on August 4. “There are nations across the world who have already taken this step, some of whom that you would not believe would have done this in advance of a nation like our own.”

Giddings touted the economic benefits of gay nuptials: “There is strong evidence that legislation for same-sex marriage will provide a significant economic boost and create jobs for Tasmanians.”

Australia's Marriage Act is a federal law and some wondered if the state was exceeding its authority. Giddings said the government has received legal advice that it can enact such legislation because the marriages of gay and lesbian couples are currently not regulated by federal law.

The island state of Tasmania only decriminalized gay sex in 1997, the last Australian state to do so.