|Openly gay Minister of Water Penny Wong is expected to |
play a crucial role in passing marriage equality in Australia next year
The ruling Labor Party of Australia has voted to endorse marriage equality, a big step towards Australia becoming the next country to end marriage discrimination in February 2012. However by a vote of 208 to 184 it was made a conscience vote, in other words individual MPs will be allowed to vote their conscience and not be "whipped" to adhere to the party line.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had called for a conscience vote and personally moved the amendment backing this.Had this been defeated, Ms Gillard’s leadership would have suffered a serious blow. She dodged a bullet when the conscience vote was endorsed by 208 votes to 184.Support to change the platform to one of explicit support for gay marriage was much stronger and some see this as a defeat for the Prime Minister.She has not publicly opposed a platform change but she does oppose changes to the Marriage Act which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.The platform change endorsed today says ‘‘Labor will amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life’’.