Campaigners: Same-sex marriage in Spain of Australian government minister must spur on marriage equality

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Equal marriage campaigners in Australia have said that the marriage in Spain by a gay government minister to his long term partner shows how pressing the need for a change in the law is.

Ian Hunter, Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion in the South Australian Legislative Council and his partner Leith Semmens announced on Wednesday that they were married in Spain after flying halfway around the world to skirt Australia’s laws banning marriage equality.

The Spanish city of June’s mayor, Jose Antonio Rodriguez Salas, a vocal supporter of equal marriage – helped the couple settle the complicated paperwork necessary to marry in Spain.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener Rodney Croome said the the marriage was tinged with sadness because the vows would not be respected under Australian law.

“We call on the South Australian parliament to lead the nation toward marriage equality by allowing same-sex couples to legally marry and fully recognising same-sex marriages from overseas,” he said.

“Reform at a federal level would be best, but in the absence of this, Ian Hunter’s wedding is a strong impetus for South Australia to take the lead.”

A few hours before marrying, Mr Hunter said: “Without a doubt it’s inevitable in Australia, but you’re looking at six or seven years, and me and my partner weren’t willing to wait that long.”

Last year, the politician had said he would marry his partner in New York if Australia didn’t start recognising same-sex marriages.

Last month, Spain’s Constitutional Court upheld the country’s seven-year-long equal marriage law following an appeal by the country’s ruling conservative party.

In September, Australia’s Parliament voted down a proposed equal marriage bill.

The country’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has staunchly opposed supporting marriage rights for gay couples.