20th September, 2012
The battle over same-sex marriage is now expected to move to state parliaments after federal MPs yesterday voted against a bill that would have allowed gay couples to marry.
The bill, introduced by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones, was voted down in the House of Representatives, 98 votes to 42. All Coalition MPs, who were not permitted a free vote, voted against the bill. Labor MPs, who were permitted a free vote, were split with Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her predecessor Kevin Rudd among those voting against the bill while 10 of Labor's 17 cabinet ministers in the lower house voted in favor along with Greens representative Adam Bandt and independents Craig Thompson, Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott..
Same-sex marriage campaigners, whom Mr Jones told to "maintain your rage", are now expected to target state and territory parliaments. Tasmania's lower house has already passed a bill legalising same-sex marriage and there are also reportedly moves to do so in New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
In a statement, Jim Wallace, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said it was now time to "move on" from the issue. "I would like to thank the opposition for keeping its election promise and for all those members of Labor who, as a matter of conscience, voted to ensure that marriage remained between a man and a woman," he said.
The Senate will vote today on a further bill aimed at legalising same-sex marriage, the second of four now before Federal Parliament, but this too is expected to be defeated.
- DAVID ADAMS