Hot off the wires from AAP:
PERTH, June 25 AAP – The West Australian Labor Party has passed a motion supporting same-sex marriage in a move which will put greater pressure on the federal government to back the changes.
However the motion, supported by WA Labor leader Eric Ripper, came under attack from party heavyweights during the state conference in Perth on Saturday.
Labor MP John Hyde said the Labor Party had a history of ending discrimination by giving women the vote, campaigning to end the White Australia Policy and granting equal rights to Aborigines.
“WA is a better place because of these changes, because we moved to make a far more equal society in WA,” Mr Hyde said.
“Now we need to move towards equality in the federal legislation.”
WA Labor powerbroker Joe Bullock spoke against the move, saying marriage was more than just about the legal recognition of a same-sex relationship.
“Ask yourself would society ever afford a special status to marriage if it had nothing to do with reproduction,” said Mr Bullock, head of WA’s shop workers union, SDA.
“Marriage is special because it provides a stable, balanced environment for children raising. Homosexual relationships are naturally and necessarily infertile; it’s not marriage.”
Upper house MP Kate Doust also criticised the move, saying she was concerned the party was tackling a “populist” issue while ignoring the needs of the broader community.
Ms Doust said the issue of same-sex marriage was more of a “CBD issue” rather than one affecting people in regional areas.
“Sometimes I’m worried as a party when we respond to these types of issues we don’t think more broadly about how this plays out in the community and how it affects those people in the suburbs,” she said.
However former MP and planning minister Alannah MacTiernan said such comments were “demeaning” to people in the suburbs and regional areas by suggesting they were incapable of having “sophistication, sympathy and empathy” on the issue.
“It’s not just confined to the inner city, there’s gay people in Armadale, there’s gay people in Pinjarra, there’s gay people in Mandurah,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“They don’t just all live around Highgate (in the heart of Perth).”
Ms MacTiernan said heterosexual couples were the biggest problem for the sanctity of marriage, saying 40 per cent of marriages had ended in divorce.
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