Tasmania’s Upper House has passed a motion of support for marriage equality.
Independent Tony Mulder put forward the motion calling on the state’s Legislative Council to give “its in-principle support to same-sex marriage” and it was passed on Tuesday 8 votes to 5.
“It’s in the context of the [federal government’s planned] plebiscite that this House should show some leadership, not only on this issue but on how is should be debated,” Mr Mulder (pictured) told the parliament.
“It is my intention with this debate to demonstrate that the matter should, and can, be dealt with tolerantly, with empathy, and with respect.”
Mr Mulder said the issue of marriage equality had been a “political hot potato” for far too long.
“I think people need to relax and settle down, we are making it legal, not compulsory,” he said.
“Why is this so emotive, why do we have to draw battle lines? Why do we have to treat this most personal of issues as if it was a threat to society or a threat to our way of life?”
All of the members were given a conscience vote on the motion. Last November, Tasmania’s Lower House gave cross-party support to same-sex marriage, voting 15-9 in favour of supporting marriage equality.
Tasmanian LGBTI advocate Rodney Croome said the state had become the first parliament in Australia in which both houses had voted to support the reform.
“No-one can accuse the Upper House of being a radical chamber and its support for marriage equality confirms the reform has strong mainstream support,” he said.
“It sends a message to Federal Parliament to get on with the job of passing this reform as soon as possible.
“I urge the Federal Liberal Party to follow the lead of its Tasmanian counterpart and allow a free vote so marriage equality can pass and the nation can move on.”
Federal Attorney-General George Brandis is expected to take the planned marriage equality plebiscite – public vote – to the federal cabinet shortly, with the intention of holding the vote late this year or early next year should the plebiscite legislation be passed.
A recent survey of the LGBTI community found more than 80% of respondents are opposed to the plebiscite.