The same-sex marriage bill in Tasmania suffered on Thursday the same fate its federal counterpart experienced when it was rejected by state lawmakers. The fate of the controversial measure was sealed when the 8th member of the 15-member Legislative Council voted against the bill.
Had the measure won, Tasmania would have been the first Australian state to recognise gay weddings after the federal Parliament and Senate rejected two similar proposals last week. It would have been a double victory for the state which was the last to decriminalise homosexuality.
The defeat of the bill was due to constitutional doubts raised by key undeclared Councillors.
However, Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome said the approval by the Tasmania lower house and some backing in the council would be considered achievements for gender equality. Only six members of the council voted in favour of gay marriages.
Mr Croome said the bill is far from dead as he foresees other states and even the federal Parliament eventually approving a same-sex marriage bill.
"The tragedy for me as a gay man in Tasmania is that I may end up being able to marry in Sydney or Canberra or Adelaide under legislation that we developed here," The Australian quoted Mr Croome.
Greens leader Nick McKim, who co-sponsored the bill, accused the council members who voted against the bill of lacking courage.
"If they're going to vote against the bill they're holding Tasmania back, they're choosing fear over love, they're choosing division over unity and they're choosing the 19th century over the 21st century. The Legislative Councillors that are hiding behind a so-called fear of a High Court challenge are taking the coward's way out here," Mr McKim said.
During the debate on the bill, member for Mersey Mike Gaffney said change could not be avoided.
"In the 1700s, marriage between a Catholic and an Anglican was not recognised as law. Such a stance would be ludicrous now. Changing this aspect did not lessen the value of marriage and now will changing marriage to incorporate same-sex couples," ABC quoted Mr Gaffney.
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