Australia’s marriage equality advocates have hailed the passage of a law in New York state allowing same-sex couples to marry, with human rights leaders saying the eyes of the world are now on Australia.

Australian Marriage Equality National Convener, Alex Greenwich, said:

“Public support for same-sex marriage is at the same level in New York state as it is in Australia, giving Australian advocates renewed hope reform will occur here sooner rather than later”.

“The fact New York legislators rejected half measures like civil unions as a substitute for marriage equality sends a clear message to Australian legislators to do the same.”

“The introduction of marriage equality legislation by Democrat Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and the overwhelming support of his Party highlights the momentum building amongst centre-left parties around the world and we are hopeful the ALP will soon join the global push for marriage equality”.

Mr Greenwich has spoken to human rights campaigners in New York including the Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch, Boris Dittrich, who have all stated they hope to see Australia be the next place to “walk down the aisle”.

Mr. Dittrich said “With the state of New York on board, a big step has been taken to achieve same-sex marriage nationwide in the US. The eyes of the world are now set on Australia. I hope Australia will be next in ending discrimination of same sex couples in terms of marriage legislation.”

Mr Greenwich said the further exemptions to anti-discrimination laws, which were enacted in New York to win support for marriage equality from key Republican State Senators, are not necessary in Australia.

“Australian marriage law already allows religious celebrants to refuse to perform marriages they disagree with, while the Sex Discrimination Act permits faith-based services to discriminate on the ground of marital status.”

“There is no need for any further exemptions for religious organisations.”

Mr Greenwich went on to say he expects Australian same-sex partners to marry in New York:

“There will be gay Australians who marry in New York, only to have their legal status stripped away from them the moment they return home.”

“We hope the our Government will one-day soon respect the solemn vows these partners will take.”

Currently, five US states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire – as well as Washington DC, allow same-sex couples to marry.

In Australia only the state of Tasmania recognises overseas same-sex marriages and only as civil partnerships.

The news comes the same day as the West Australian Labor State Conference is expected to debate and vote on a motion for same-sex marriage, similar to the motion recently passed by the Queensland ALP.
Alex Greenwich, Australian Marriage Equality