Media Release
Thursday February 2nd 2012


Australian marriage equality advocates have hailed a key vote in favour of reform in the US state of Washington.

Washington is set to become the eighth place in the United State to allow same-sex marriages after the state Upper House today passed a marriage equality bill that is expected to easily pass the state Lower House and has the support of state governor, Christine Gregoire.

Today’s vote came after a Washington Senate Committee dealt with issues of concern to Republican Senators such as religious exemptions. The same process is expected to take place in Australia, where Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said she will refer her bill to a Senate inquiry next week.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said the Washington Senate vote sends a message to Australian politicians that there is no substitute for full equality.

“Since 2009 Washington state has had a domestic partnership scheme which has not given same-sex couples full equality and which legislators now see was a half-measure.”

“This sends a clear message to Australian legislators: deeming same-sex couples as de facto partners or civil partners is not a substitute for the full legal equality that can only come with equality in marriage.”

Mr Greenwich’s comments come just days after it was revealed that federal MPs, Warren Entsch and Joel Fitzgibbon, plan to co-sponsor a civil union bill in federal parliament.

In a recent statement supporting marriage equality Governor Gregorie, a committed Catholic, said,

“Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage. That’s a version of the discriminatory separate-but-equal argument of the past. For years that argument was used to keep African Americans separate. But we Americans knew separate is not equal. Laws that keep some Americans in a separate status are inherently unjust. It’s now time for equality for our gay and lesbian citizens and that means marriage. When someone asks me what marriage means I don’t think of the legal protections of a marriage license. Instead I think about love, I think about commitment, I think about responsibility, I think about partnership. Same-sex couples should not be denied that meaning of marriage.”

Mr Greenwich also welcomed the support for reform from key conservative Republican senators and said this will send a message to Federal Opposition Tony Abbott and the Coalition.

“The message for the Coalition out of Washington State is that marriage equality is an issue that is being embraced by conservative politicians throughout the world, from Washington Republicans to UK Prime Minister David Cameron”.
Alex Greenwich, Australian Marriage Equality