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Gillard Meets With Australian Marriage Equality Activists

Gillard Meets With Australian Marriage Equality Activists


Prime Minister Julia Gillard met for the first time with Australian marriage equality advocates Tuesday and assured them her Labor Party would debate the issue at its annual conference in December.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the private meeting in Canberra, which occurred as some sources claimed the party was trying to arrange a conscience vote to sidestep a comprehensive debate at the conference.

"But gay advocates, who met with Ms Gillard in a private meeting in Canberra on Tuesday, say they're satisfied the same-sex marriage issue will be thrashed out in earnest come December," reports the Morning Herald.

The meeting represented the first time an Australian prime minister has met formally with marriage equality advocates, according to a statement from Australian Marriage Equality. Five advocates expressed their reasons for support and questioned Gillard about her opposition in a respectful dialogue, according to the statement.

Australian Marriage Equality campaign director Rodney Croome said, "In response to reports that the Labor Party may adopt a conscience vote on marriage equality before the National Conference has a chance to deal with the issue in December, the Prime Minister gave us an assurance there will be a debate on marriage equality at the National Conference."

Shelley Argent, the national spokeswoman for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said, "I felt Ms Gillard listened and we gave her another perspective on an issue that not only affects couples but their families and friends. The meeting gave me hope that if the National Conference is positive on this issue she won't stand in the way of marriage equality being presented to Parliament."

Members of the federal parliament are scheduled to report Wednesday on support for same-sex marriage among their constituents.

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