Thursday, 10th October 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby said today’s research paper released by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute does not shed any new light on the legal complexities surrounding same-sex marriage.

“The report tells us what we already know – that there is much diversity of opinion in the legal fraternity about the constitutionality of a state-based same-sex marriage law,” said ACL’s Tasmanian State Director Mark Brown.

“This comes after last week’s news reports about advice the Solicitor-General’s Office gave to the federal government that the ACT Marriage Equality Bill would be unconstitutional if passed,” he said.

“This report highlights the uncertain constitutional validity of state-based legislation and the high probably that such legislation will have to be ruled upon by the High Court.

“When given the opportunity to pass a same-sex marriage bill in Tasmania last September, the Tasmanian parliament voted it down.

“Nothing in the report is likely to sway Tasmania’s Legislative Council Members (MLCs) to pursue the unprecedented move to reintroduce an already defeated bill.

“It simply repeats and summarises the arguments on both sides, including many arguments given to the Tasmanian Parliament last year, and emphasises the uncertainty of the issue,” he said.

Mr Brown questioned why disproportionate resources are being devoted to this issue.

“Legislative Council President Jim Wilkinson said Ruth Forrest’s motion to reintroduce last year’s failed bill was a first in his 18 years in parliament and he would not be supporting it. Other MLCs have commented about the huge backlog of existing legislation before the upper house.

“Legislation by attrition is not good democracy. Parliament had debated this issue a year ago notwithstanding the bill put before federal government last year which was also voted down,” he said.