Thursday, November 21, 2013

NSW Upper House votes down same-sex marriage bill

The Upper House of the NSW Parliament has narrowly voted down a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Despite initial hopes the upper house would pass the legislation, MPs voted against it by 21 votes to 19 in the Legislative Council on Thursday afternoon.

Christian Democratic Party MP the Reverend Fred Nile, who campaigned against the legislation, said the outcome was 'a great victory for marriage in the NSW upper house.' 

Mr Nile said he believed a decisive factor in the bill's defeat was Premier Barry O'Farrell's announcement that he would vote against the bill if it came before the lower house.

Mr O'Farrell revealed his support for same-sex marriage a day after New Zealand's Parliament voted to change its national laws in April. 

But in a statement released the night before the bill's introduction to the upper house last month, Mr O'Farrell said that while he was a supporter of marriage equality, he would not support the NSW legislation. 

He argued that 'only change enacted by the Federal Parliament can deliver true equality in our marriage laws.'

Independent MP Alex Greenwich, a member of the cross-party working group who devised the bill, said he took heart from the closeness of the vote. 

Mr Greenwich, who is the member for Sydney in the lower house and therefore did not participate in the vote, said it was the first time Coalition MPs had voted in favour of a same sex marriage bill in Australia. 

Liberals Catherine Cusack and Greg Pearce and Nationals Sarah Mitchell and Trevor Khan supported the bill.

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