The Australian Labor Party is poised to adopt marriage equality as part of its platform, despite Prime Minister Julia Gillard's stated opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.
In a saving-face maneuver, however, Labor MPs will be allowed to take a conscience vote on the issue during the party's national conference.
The compromise means the numbers will not be there in the Parliament for a change to the federal Marriage Act unless the Opposition also grants its members a free vote in Parliament and a dozen or more support gay marriage.
Speaking yesterday after 11th-hour negotiations, senior Left sources said support for full marriage equality had built steadily ahead of the debate and was estimated to be as high as 250 votes out of the 400 at the conference.
The amendment will change the platform to remove the words "against same-sex couple" while declaring "Labor will ensure that all couples whether married or de facto do not suffer discrimination". "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," it says.