The NSW Cross Party Marriage Equality Working Group – made up of Greens, Labor, Liberal, National and independent MPs – will introduce legislation to state parliament seeking to give same-sex couples the right to marry in NSW.
At time of writing, the NSW Same-Sex Marriage Bill was due to be introduced by Labor MLC Penny Sharpe in today’s session of parliament.
The development follows the ACT Parliament passing same-sex marriage in that jurisdiction last week – a move now being challenged in the High Court by the Federal Government.
Ms Sharpe said she believed the NSW legislation could withstand any similar challenge.
“The community and parliament can be confident we have done our due diligence to ensure we have the strongest bill possible; one that will allow loving and committed same-sex couples to marry in NSW and one that will withstand any high court challenge,” she said.
Ms Sharpe’s view was backed by constitutional lawyer Bret Walker SC who said: “We consider that the NSW bill seeks to create and regulate a new status called ‘same-sex marriage’, not the existing status of marriage. Accordingly, in our view, [it] would not be inconsistent with the Marriage Act 1961.”
The Liberal Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith, said if the bill passed the Upper House, it would proceed to the Lower House next year.
“The matter is rightly a conscience vote issue for the coalition and the Premier’s support for same-sex marriage demonstrates his strong respect for the gay and lesbian community; a respect shared by many coalition members,” said Mr Notley-Smith.
Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said: “It is important we do not rush the legislation through the lower house and instead deal with any member’s concerns about the legislation in a respectful and thoughtful way.
“This will maximise the chances of this bill passing to allow same-sex couples to marry in NSW.”
Greens MLG Mehreen Faruqi and Nationals MLC Trevor Kahn also expressed hopes the bill would pass.
The last significant legal change to same-sex relationship recognition in NSW was the passing of the Relationships Register Bill 2010, which was signed into law by Governor Marie Bashir in July of that year.