Australian Greens unlikely to move on gay marriage

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The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Green party in Australia is unlikely to make progress on gay marriage at a local level, despite new legislation regarding territorial autonomy, the Star Observer reports.

Senator Bob Brown, a member of the Greens, will table a private member’s bill that would require a Parliamentary veto to overturn territorial legislation, rather than a federal government’s current ability to overturn laws itself.

It was supposed this would “open the door” to gay marriage legislation by Australia’s territories and states, but Shane Rattenbury, the Greens’ Member of the Legislative Assembly told the Star Observer this was unlikely in the ACT.

He said: “I don’t believe the ACT can legislate for marriage, full stop, whether Bob’s [Brown] bill passes or not.”

“Our best advice is that territories can’t do marriage, that’s a federal government responsibility. That’s why we support [Greens senator] Sarah Hanson-Young’s bill in the Senate for [same-sex] marriage.”

Instead, he suggested they would use the new powers to strengthen extant civil partnership laws.

However, some south-eastern states, including New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria, have signaled moves at their level towards gay marriage.

Rattenbury said: “Given the opportunity, we’d prefer to see the civil unions legislation in the ACT improved, no question.”

The Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich said the ACT should “move beyond” civil partnership schemes and move towards allowing gay marriage.

“Legislation allowing same-sex marriages is before the Tasmanian and South Australian Parliaments and has been proposed in NSW [New South Wales] and Victoria,” he said.

“It’s time for Jon Stanhope to fulfill [his] promise of equality to gay Canberrans by also moving beyond civil unions and allowing fully-fledged same-sex marriages.

“We welcome the fact the territories will be freer to make their own laws, including a civil union law with a legally-binding ceremony if they wish, but civil unions are not and cannot be a substitute for allowing same-sex marriages.”