AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER – AUSTRALIAN NEWS 2nd OCTOBER 2013

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  • MOVES TO LEGALISE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN ACT AND FEDERAL PARLIAMENT TEST FOR TONY ABBOTT


MOVES TO LEGALISE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN ACT AND FEDERAL PARLIAMENT TEST FOR TONY ABBOTT

Tony Abbott faces an immediate test on same-sex marriage, after the ACT Labor government declared it would introduce legislation to legalise same-sex marriage in the next sitting of parliament.  ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said her government would once again “bring forward legislation that delivers equality for same-sex couples, legislation that promises them the right to marry”. The Gallagher government’s move comes seven years after the Howard government used commonwealth powers to override ACT legislation to legalise same-sex civil unions. 

Ms Gallagher said marriage equality was a reform that a “growing proportion of Australians want made”.  “It is a matter of time,” the Chief Minister said. “We would prefer to see the federal parliament legislate for a nationally consistent scheme, but in the absence of this we will act for the people of the ACT. The Marriage Equality Bill 2013 will enable couples who are not able to marry under the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 to enter into marriage in the ACT. It will provide for solemnisation, eligibility, dissolution and annulment, regulatory requirements and notice of intention in relation to same-sex marriages.” 

Ms Gallagher said her government was determined to remove discrimination against same-sex couples and their families. “With this legislation, we will state loud and clear that all people have equal rights in our society and are treated equally by our laws,” she said. In 2006, Governor-General Michael Jeffery disallowed the territory’s civil unions legislation after intervention by Howard government Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. Mr Abbott could do the same, but at time of writing Mr Abbott had not issued a statement on the matter of what his response would be to the proposed ACT legislation. 

Meanwhile in relation to legislation being introduced into the Federal Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage, the Prime Minister’s lesbian sister Christine Forster said she did not care whether Kevin Rudd was the sponsor of a gay marriage bill, as long as it was introduced at a time where it had maximum opportunity for success. “I wouldn’t want to see a bill rushed and possibly suffer another heavy defeat, which might mean it’s off the agenda for rest of this term,” Ms Forster said. “I sincerely hope the Coalition will allow a conscience vote, and I know there are members in the new party-room who will argue very strongly for that to occur.” 

Mr Rudd is being urged to sponsor a private member’s bill next year to force federal parliament to consider the issue once more. Mr Rudd is committed to the change, which during the election campaign he promised to deliver within 100 days of winning office, and would consider sponsoring a private member’s bill to be put to the House of Representatives. Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the issue of same-sex marriage achieved an incredibly high profile during the election.  Mr Shelton said it should not be up to politicians to change a law that would have such a heavy impact on freedom of speech, belief and religion. 

“The far-reaching consequences of changing the definition of marriage mean a conscience vote of the Australian people, not politicians, is what is needed,” Mr Shelton said. Moves by the ACT and NSW parliaments to introduce same-sex marriage meant Australia risked having a hodgepodge of marriage laws when in reality the marriage power resided with the Commonwealth, he said. ACL’s election panel webcast to 300 churches prior to the election heard former Attorney-General Robert McClelland and former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson both call for a constitutional referendum to settle the matter. 

“I think the High Court will ultimately, if there is a change in the law, be required to determine what the constitutional founders meant when they included the marriage power in the constitution,” Mr McClelland said. “I don’t think that’s a comfortable place for the High Court to be. I think if there is going to be any reform in this area, and I don’t think there should be, but if there is, it should be through the public debating it through the course of a referendum.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media sources