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Asia Minute: Australia May Reconsider Same Sex Marriage

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Wikimedia Commons
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It’s been nearly a week since the U-S Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples have “a fundamental right to marry.” But in many countries, the issue remains unsettled. And in Australia it will get a broader hearing this summer. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

For more than a decade, Australia’s federal government has defined marriage as an act between a man and a woman.

Several states allow domestic partnerships….with varying degrees of rights attached to that phrasing.

For at least the past six years, various measures to allow same sex marriage across the country have been defeated by Australia’s national parliament.

Next month, the issue will come up again in parliament.

Those who want to change the law say last week’s U-S Supreme Court decision and Ireland’s national referendum legalizing same sex marriage have added momentum to the movement in Australia.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott remains opposed to changing the law.

This week he said the immediate priorities of parliament and the other branches of government should be on economic growth and national security.

Public opinion in Australia has moved strongly in favor of same sex marriage over the years.

A 2004 nationwide poll showed 38% supported legalizing same sex marriage.

The lobby group Australian Marriage Equality dot org quotes a recent poll showing support levels have now risen to 62%.

Two years ago, New Zealand became the first nation in the Asia Pacific to legalize same sex marriage.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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