NSW steps closer to legalising same-sex marriage

Date: Jul 30, 2013

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday (July 27) that New South Wales could be the first state in Australia to legalise same-sex marriage.

Following an inquiry into same-sex marriage by the New South Wales Legislative Council, a report stating that "New South Wales Parliament has the power to legislate on the topic of marriage, including same-sex marriage" was published.

However, the report goes on to say that if New South Wales Parliament chooses to exercise this power and make same-sex marriage legal, the law could potentially be challenged in the High Court of Australia.

Because of this, the report suggests that this attempt to gain equal marriage rights for all Australians may have a better chance of being successful if it's left to Commonwealth legislation.

The Hon. Greg Donnelly MLC, who is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council and a representative of the Australian Labor Party, believes it is highly likely that the Commonwealth would challenge any such law that came to pass in New South Wales.

"I believe that the High Court of Australia would find such a legislative initiative invalid and inoperative," he added.

The New South Wales Council of Churches has also put their two cents in, calling on Premier Barry O'Farrell to relinquish his support of same-sex marriage.

In a media statement released on July 27, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, who is president of this Council, said that it is "far from clear whether the states have the power to pass same-sex marriage laws, given that marriage is a federal matter".

The Guardian revealed on July 27 that Mr O'Farrell had previously said he would rather the federal government made changes to the Marriage Act. However, now it seems he is prepared to "go it alone" if it turns out he can.

There was a strong vote against the legalisation of same-sex marriage by federal New South Wales MPs back in 2012 when the issue was brought before federal parliament.

But times are changing. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, submissions in favour of the proposed reform came from far and wide, with parents, health and mental health organisations and clergy all offering their support.

Craddock Murray Neumann has been offering family law advice to same-sex couples for many years.

Our family lawyers are experts in the field of same-sex relationship issues and are happy to help you work through these.