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Tasmania’s lower house passes marriage equality, New Zealand bill survives first vote

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

While marriage equality may be on hold at the federal level in Australia right now, the issue is moving apace in a few of the state legislatures.  Sky News reports today that the Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2012 “sailed” through Tasmania’s lower house, the Legislative Assembly, paving the way for an upper house vote to allow full marriage equality in the state.  From Sky News:

Labor and Greens members and onlookers, including Australian Marriage Equality chief Alex Greenwich, erupted into applause as the bill was passed.

Liberal Leader Will Hodgman was the lone voice against the bill, saying his team was united in believing marriage was between a man and a woman, and a matter for the commonwealth.

For the first time in the state’s history, a bill in the lower house was co-sponsored, by Ms Giddings and Greens Leader Nick McKim.

‘I do not believe that the personal moral disapproval that some individuals may feel towards same-sex marriage is a valid reason to allow discrimination to continue in the 21st century,’ Ms Giddings said.

The bill’s fate in Tasmania’s upper house is uncertain: 13 of the 15 independents in the chamber have not yet taken a position on it.  Intriguingly, Tasmania was the last state in Australia to decriminalize homosexuality, which it did in 1997.  Legislators in South Australia look likely to make it the next state after Tasmania to make a move towards full marriage equality.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, legislators passed a marriage equality in the first of three votes by an overwhelming margin of 80 to 40.  The bill needed only a simple majority, so the AP notes that the numbers are a good sign of the bill’s future success.  A poll of lawmakers just this week found only a slim majority of 61 members said they would vote for the bill.  Notably, politicians in New Zealand cited President Obama’s May announcement in support of marriage equality as a reason for moving forward with legislation in their country:

The proposed changes can be directly traced to Obama’s declaration in May in support of gay marriage. That prompted center-right Prime Minister John Key to break his long silence on the issue by saying he was “not personally opposed” to the idea. Then lawmaker Louisa Wall, from the opposition Labour Party, put forward a bill she had previously drafted.

“If I’m really honest, I think the catalyst was around Obama’s announcement, and then obviously our prime minister came out very early in support, as did the leader of my party, David Shearer,” Wall told The Associated Press. “The timing was right.”


  • 1. Derek Williams  |  August 30, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Fabulous news for both Tasmania and New Zealand.

  • 2. Ray in Sacramento  |  August 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

    It amazes me how other countries continue to move forward with things like same-sex marriage and health care for all while people in this country want to try and move us back to the 1950's and beyond.

  • 3. Sagesse  |  August 30, 2012 at 8:19 am


  • 4. Mike in Baltimore  |  August 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you Ms Giddings and Greens Leader Nick McKim for your support and leadership in getting this measure passed, and with such a healthy margin in favor.

    But as someone who is non-Australian, and not familiar with most Australian politicians, may I ask who Ms Giddings is? Is she the leader of a political party? Is she a prominent politician for some other reason?

  • 5. Knz  |  August 31, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Ms Giddings (full: Lara Giddings) is the Premier of Tasmania (i.e. the head of government of that Australian state) and is also the leader of the Labor party in Tasmania.

  • 6. Mike in Baltimore  |  August 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you for that information, Knz.

  • 7. Knz  |  August 31, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Great news from both New Zealand and Tasmania (one hopes that the Australian federal parliament follows suit soon).

    These bills should not really be anything difficult: a supermajority of people in both New Zealand and Australia (and in every Australian state/territory, according to polls) support marriage equality…

  • 8. Australian Capital Territ&hellip  |  October 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

    […] plan to consider marriage equality bills in the next few weeks.  Tasmania’s lower house approved a similar bill last summer which failed in the upper house a few months […]

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