No longer the punchline literally at the bottom of every Australian joke or the afterthought that strikes you when you’re adding up all the states and territories you’ve visited, Tasmania now looks set to take the title of Australia’s Most Progressive State (and that title has nothing to do with either MoNA or Garagistes!) after Premier Lara Giddings today announced that her government will legislate to allow same-sex couples to marry if the rest of the Commonwealth fails to act.
At the state’s Labor Party State conference this afternoon, Premier Giddings said that “This was a last area of discrimination that was left, and we fundamentally believe that it’s wrong that people do not have the same choices in life that the rest of us take for granted when it comes to marriage. The time has now come for marriage equality to be part of our community.
We will be supporting legislation that will allow for marriage for gay couples here in Tasmania. We will be removing that discrimination. We will be leading the way for the rest of Australia to follow.”
According to The ABC, at the announcement Giddings is said to have received a standing ovation from the majority of the party (not including the defiant Right faction of the party). The pledge means that the first same-sex marriages could take place within the year, despite the potential for a High Court challenge and the act needing to pass through an upper house comprised of 13/15 independents.
Tasmania was the first state to enact a civil union scheme and recognise overseas marriages but was ironically the last to decriminalise homosexuality fifteen years ago. In September last year, the state’s lower house of parliament voted in support of legalising same-sex marriage in Australia, and now, coupled with its hipster friendly credentials Tasmania looks like a frontrunner to take home both the title of Australia’s Next Top State and the $96 million dollar prize that comes with it (according to Same Same).
Finally, both a State and a Lara we can be proud of.
Photo by Torsten Blackwood for Getty Images