South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill
has endorsed a gay marriage bill.
At an Adelaide rally to support the
legalization of such unions held Saturday on the steps of Parliament
House, Weatherill said he would support a bill proposed by the Green
Party legalizing gay marriage in the Australian state and allow Labor
MPs a conscience vote.
“People should be entitled to express
their own identity in any way they wish and the law shouldn't become
a barrier to prevent them from doing that,” Weatherill told the
crowd. “So, from my perspective, it's a simple question of the
dignity of the individual.”
Weatherill's endorsement comes roughly
a week after Tasmania Premier Lara Giddings told a ruling state Labor
Party conference that her state “will be leading the way for the
rest of Australia to follow” on marriage equality.
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, approved
nearly 8 years ago, federally defines marriage as a heterosexual
union, leaving some to wonder whether states have the power to
legalize gay marriage.
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
The island state of Tasmania only
decriminalized gay sex in 1997, the last Australian state to do so.