Marriage Equality Bill Advances in Tasmania

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com August 30 2012 11:39 AM ET

Tasmania moved one step closer to becoming the first Australian state to legalize same-sex marriage Thursday when the state’s lower house passed legislation, becoming the first chamber of a Parliament in the country to approve such a measure.

The bill, cosponsored by Labor premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim, passed by 13 votes to 11, according to The Age. When Parliament returns next month, the bill will move to the upper house, where passage looks uncertain, with 13 independent members out of 15.

Tasmania, which was the last Australian state to decriminalize homosexuality in 1997, could become the first to legalize same-sex marriage. Efforts are also under way in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. A bill expected to receive a vote in the federal Parliament later this year appears unlikely to pass, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the Labor Party and the coalition government opposed.

Marriage equality advocate Alex Greenwich hailed the Tasmanian vote as an example of what states can do in spite of the federal challenge.

''If Federal Parliament fails to deliver it, we now know this will happen state by state and territory by territory,'' he said, The Age reported.