Australia’s Labor Party endorses the freedom to marry

Australia’s ruling Labor Party endorsed extending the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples throughout the country this past Saturday, according to the Associated Foreign Press. Delegates agreed to reverse their party platform and support marriage after hearing from citizens on both sides of the debate at the Australian Labor Party conference in Sydney over the weekend.

The decision conflicts with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s support of a national ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Gillard called for the party to accept a conscience vote on the issue, which they did by a vote of 208-184. Currently, Gillard’s party holds a slight majority in Parliament over the conservative Liberal Party, which opposes the freedom to marry.

Although civil unions for gay and lesbian couples are recognized by five states, Australia’s federal government prohibits these couples from many protections and responsibilities of marriage due to the Marriage Act. Polls by Australian Marriage Equality demonstrate that 62% of Australian citizens were in favor of the freedom to marry in 2010.

Click here to read more about international progress for the freedom to marry around the world.