Aug 052012
Gay rights advocate Rodney Croome toasts the same-sex marriage decision on Parliament Lawns

With Labor and the Greens set to pass historic same-sex marriage legislation, the real battle will be held in the Upper House, with lobbying of those MPs beginning in earnest yesterday.

Six members of the Upper House indicated they would oppose the Bill. Five MPs were supportive but a further four MLCs of the 15-member Legislative Council would not show their hands.

Premier Lara Giddings announced on Saturday the Government wanted Tasmania to be the first state in which gay couples could become legally married.

Since the ALP Conference announcement, champagne has flowed among gay marriage supporters, while opponents plan to step up their determined counter-attack.

Tasmanian gay rights spokesman Rodney Croome had already been lobbying MLCs individually.

Tasmanian Small Business Council executive officer Robert Mallett said gay marriage could be a boost to tourism, saying modelling put the income figure at $100 million if Tasmania decided to go it alone.

Mr Croome said he hoped those uncertain of the change would be persuaded. A supporters’ rally was planned for Saturday on Salamanca lawns.

“Same-sex couples, their friends and family members have to have heart-to-hearts with our politicians and with Liberal members and in particular members of the Upper House,” Mr Croome said.

The Australian Christian Lobby has been talking to MLCs on the surrogacy issue, which they said was closely linked because it was about same-sex parenting.

“Do we want Tasmania to be the gay marriage capital of Australia?” Tasmanian director of the Australian Christian Lobby Mark Brown said.

“People are saying it’s worth $100 million … that’s a lot of people flooding in to have gay marriages.”

Mr Brown said the concerns about same-sex parents were similar to surrogacy.

He feared many children would not know half of their genetic heritage.

“In 20 or 30 years, we will have a generation who will say, `who made the decision I should never have had a mother?’.”

The 15 MLCs said they would listen to all sides and none would commit themselves without seeing the legislation.
However, MLCs Rosemary Armitage, Tania Rattray, Greg Hall, Vanessa Goodwin and Paul Harriss were expected to vote against the legislation.

Meanwhile, Legislative Council president Sue Smith could not be contacted but has been reported as being opposed in the past. She would have the casting vote in the event of a tie, with convention supporting the status quo.

MLCs Ruth Forrest, Kerry Finch, Craig Farrell, Rob Valentine and Jim Wilkinson were likely to vote in favour.

Legislative Councillor Tony Mulder said Ms Giddings was using a distraction.

Upper House MP Adriana Taylor preferred the issue was dealt with federally. She believed young people were more concerned about jobs and the environment.

MLC Ivan Dean would not declare either way.

Upper House MP Mike Gaffney could not be contacted.

There is still dispute over whether the change is constitutionally possible, with a High Court battle tipped if the legislation was passed.


PHOTO: Gay rights advocate Rodney Croome toasts the same-sex marriage decision on Parliament Lawns