Main | Sunday, August 05, 2012

Tasmania Considers Same-Sex Marriage

In a move that will pressure Australia's national government, the head of the state of Tasmania announced today that same-sex marriage may be legalized there later this year.
The move appeared to catch the federal government and other states by surprise, with Victoria refusing to say if it would recognise same-sex marriages from Tasmania - and restating its view that marriage laws were a federal matter. But constitutional law expert Professor George Williams last night republished advice he wrote, arguing that marriage falls under the ''concurrent'' or shared powers of Section 51 of the constitution - leaving the way open for states to legislate on gay marriage.

''The only limitation is that, where federal and state laws conflict, the Commonwealth law takes precedence. My view is that a state same-sex marriage law would not be inconsistent with the federal Marriage Act after it was narrowed in 2004 to make sure it dealt only with heterosexual marriage. However, this could only be determined by the High Court,'' he wrote.

Ms Giddings said she had obtained legal advice from the solicitor-general that there was no obstacle to stop legislation. "Labor has a proud history of tackling discrimination and introducing important social reform,'' she said. "I expect the rest of the country will be watching closely as we work through this process."
Tasmania's proposed bill would also allow Australians from other states to marry there.

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