The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW) welcomes the recommendations of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee that strongly endorse civil marriage equality.
With almost 80,000 submissions received, about 59 percent of respondents urged the Senate to support the passage of Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young's Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 that seeks to remove unfair relationship discrimination against same-sex couples.
The recommendations follow the House of Representatives inquiry into the two marriage equality bills introduced by Greens MP Adam Bandt and Labor MP Stephen Jones.
Speaking in support of the bill, Committee Chair, Senator Patricia Crossin, made a powerful statement that marriage has been an evolving institution in Australia and marriage equality is a matter affecting a range of communities and families.
GLRL Co-Convenor, Justin Koonin, welcomed the cross-partisan message from the Committee, noting that, "Marriage equality is an issue of justice and fairness for same-sex couples. Senators from across the political spectrum have recognised that this reform is crucial to further the dignity and respect of same-sex relationships."
Dr Koonin added, "The Committee has recognised that Marriage Act is not about mandating reproduction, it simply confers legal recognition to couples."
The Committee has made an express recommendation to amend the bill to ensure ministers of religion are not obligated to solemnise marriages that contravene their faith.
GLRL Co-Convenor, Lainie Arnold, noted that, "Marriage does not have a religious mandate in Australian law - most marriages are performed by a civil celebrant. The Committee has made a clear recommendation that marriage equality will not impede the ability of religious ministers to marry whom them wish."
Ms Arnold elaborated, "Marriage equality is happening across the world: Spain, Argentina, Denmark, South Africa and Canada to name a few countries. It's time for Australia to catch up."
Same-sex marriages legally solemnised overseas are currently not recognised in Australia.
In keeping with the recommendations made by the Committee, the GLRL hopes all MPs will be able to exercise their "conscience" to legislate for marriage equality in Australia.