Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd blasted over gay law | Herald Sun

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd blasted over gay law | Herald Sun
Peter Jean

May 06, 2008 12:00am
KEVIN Rudd's decision to block the introduction of same-sex marriages in the ACT has been compared to slavery by gay rights groups.

The ACT Labor Government was forced to abandon its plan to introduce same-sex "civil unions" after the Federal Government threatened to use its power to veto territory laws.

The territory will instead create a register of same-sex relationships similar to the one introduced by the Brumby Government.

Prominent gay rights advocate Rodney Croome yesterday compared Mr Rudd's opposition to gay marriage to arguments made in favour of slavery and denying women the vote.

"The Prime Minister never provides justification for his opposition to same-sex marriage or civil unions, other than to say that marriage has been traditionally known as a union between a man and a woman," Mr Croome said.

"My point was that people justified slavery up until it was abolished and justified not giving women the vote up until they were enfranchised by saying that it was the tradition.

"That's not a good justification for keeping things as they are."

Australian Christian Lobby chief Jim Wallace praised the Federal Government for preventing the ACT from becoming the only part of the country with same-sex civil unions.

"Marriage is between a man and a woman," Mr Wallace said.

"It's not for 2 per cent of the population to redefine a majority institution, particularly when it's so important an institution to a healthy society."

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said he was disappointed civil unions would not become legal.

"It's embarrassing to me that a Labor Government would . . . deny the human rights of gay and lesbian people in my community," Mr Stanhope said.

The Federal Government opposed the ACT law because it included formal marriage-style ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

But it does support the introduction of relationship registers for same-sex couples.

Federal Attorney-General Robert Mclelland said the Commonwealth would not accept the introduction of laws that "mimics marriage."

The Government last week announced it would amend federal laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples in areas such as tax and social security.

The Howard government also used constitutional powers to block the introduction of civil unions in the ACT.

Mr Croome said most Australians supported gay marriage and it was inevitable that it would eventually be legalised in Australia.

"Public opinion is shifting very rapidly towards supporting same-sex legal equality," he said.

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