Labor caucus affirms marriage position

August 10, 2004 - 2:31PM

Demonstration: Protesters rallied in Sydney today as Labor confirmed its support for new laws to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. 
Photo: Reuters


Labor today confirmed its support for new laws to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

But the ALP caucus also reaffirmed the party's position that it would change a string of laws to eliminate discrimination against de facto and gay couples.

The Marriage Amendment Bill 2004, which enshrines marriage as being between a man and a woman, is set to be debated in the Senate this week.

Opposition Leader Mark Latham in caucus today moved an amendment to Labor's position to not only support the traditional definition of marriage but commit the party, if it wins government, to wholesale changes in tax, superannuation, immigration, family, industrial relations and government benefits laws.

"Mark moved an amendment to (opposition legal affairs spokeswoman) Nicola (Roxon's) recommendation which was by way of reaffirming recognition of de facto and same sex couples," a caucus spokeswoman said.

"That amendment was about reaffirming our belief that Australians are entitled to respect, dignity and the ability to participate in society and receive protection of the law, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, and that we would work with all groups to reform federal laws to recognise the diversity of legitimate relationships in the Australian community."

The spokeswoman said if the bill went to a vote this week, Labor would support it despite the fact that a Senate inquiry had yet to report.

But she said any recommendations from the inquiry, due to report on October 7, would be seriously considered by a Labor government.

The spokeswoman said some Labor MPs noted concerns about the party's position in the caucus debate.

"People raised community views including the gay and lesbian community," she said.

"It's obvious from the newspaper and others that there are sections, not a uniform view, of the gay and lesbian community that would like Labor to have a different position.

"But our position on supporting the change to the Marriage Act and that marriage is between and man and a woman has been clear from day one."