Saturday, 3 December 2011

The journey towards gay marriage has begun.

The Australian Labor Party, the party of government in Australia, has voted to include homosexual marriage in its Party Platform.

Now not everything that goes in the Platform gets enshrined in legislation.  It is, however, a first step on the way to legislation.  Items in the Platform may languish.  It is unlikely that this one will because of the support or neutrality Australians have given to the topic.  While there is opposition to gay marriage in some quarters, there is insufficient opposition to impede this policy over the long term.

There are hurdles to cross.  ALP members of Parliament will be given a conscience vote on the matter.  When legislation comes before Parliament, those who can't agree with the legislation - usually, but not always, on religious grounds - will be free from adherence to a party line.  There will be a conscience vote.  A conscience vote is not unusual on matters of deep moral consequence.

It is not clear at this stage, whether the Liberal and National Parties, the main Opposition parties and the parties of conservatism in Australia, will allow their members a conscience vote.   If the Opposition Parties do not allow a conscience vote, legislation for gay marriage will be defeated on the floor of the House of Representatives because it is believed that their party line will be against gay marriage.  However, if the Liberal and National Parties do allow a conscience vote, it is not clear what numbers would come forward from those parties to support the legislation.

In the less than likely event of the legislation passing through the House of Representatives, the bill will almost certainly pass into law with the support of The Greens.  

One thing is clear.  The journey on the road to gay marriage in the Commonwealth of Australia has begun.  Some of us will be receiving a higher than usual number of wedding invitations in the future and we are looking forward to the celebratory events.
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