For immediate release
27 July 2013
The NSW Council of Churches today reiterated its call to Premier Barry O’Farrell not to lend support to a push to legalise same sex marriage in New South Wales.
“We call on Premier O’Farrell not to support parliamentary action on same sex marriage laws in NSW if there is any legal confusion on the issue. It is far from clear whether the States have the power to pass same sex marriage laws, given that marriage is a federal matter,” President of the NSW Council of Churches, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said.
“There are many priority issues for the NSW Government to address. Gay marriage is not one of them. The strong vote against same sex marriage by federal NSW MPs when the issue was voted on in the federal parliament in 2012 indicates that the people of NSW do not want same sex marriage.”
The latest move toward same sex marriage law in NSW came with the publication of a report of a NSW Legislative Council inquiry into same sex marriage. The inquiry report stated that:
the New South Wales Parliament has the power to legislate on the topic of marriage, including same-sex marriage. However, if New South Wales chooses to exercise that power and enact a law for same-sex marriage, the law could be subject to challenge in the High Court of Australia. The outcome of such a case is uncertain and therefore equal marriage rights for all Australians may best be achieved under Commonwealth legislation.
A dissenting statement released by the Hon. Greg Donnelly MLC stated that:
it is naïve and wishful thinking to believe that with all the work and effort put in over the decades to create a single national framework, the Commonwealth would just sit idly by and allow a state to undo what has been put into place for the benefit of all Australians including those who live in New South Wales. Such legislation, if it were to pass the New South Wales Parliament, would most certainly be challenged. I believe that the High Court of Australia would find such a legislative initiative invalid and inoperative.
Dr Clifford also urged federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to remain firm in his support for the current definition of marriage in federal law.
Media contact Rod Benson 0412 421 678