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How marriage equality was defeated in Tasmania

By Rodney Croome - posted Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The nation knows that Tasmania’s move to allow same-sex marriages has failed, for now, following a vote of 8 to 6 against the Same-Sex Marriage Bill the state Upper House last week.

But what many people don’t know is how close the Bill came to passing, and the real reason was for its final defeat.

Several Legislative Council members who voted against were deeply conflicted.


One apologised to supporters of the Bill after her vote.

Another was so close to voting “yes”, other MLCs thought the Bill was through.

Even the sole Liberal MLC, Vanessa Goodwin, couldn’t be relied on to vote against.

At least that seemed to be the view of her evangelical Lower House Liberal colleague, Michael Ferguson.

He made a sudden appearance when Goodwin stood to speak, sat within feets of her and stared at her while she spoke, then left as suddenly as he arrived when she confirmed she’d be a “no”.

The Tasmanian Liberal Party is nowhere as united on this issue as it wants to pretend as Ferguson’s guard-dog behaviour shows.


But the most prominent waverer was Jim Wilkinson, who represents a socially-progressive seat in Hobart’s southern suburbs.

He was a strong “yes” to start but with just days to go he suddenly began to express doubts about the Bill.

He claimed it wasn’t real equality because it only applies to same-sex couples and to Tasmania.

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About the Author

Rodney Croome is a spokesperson for Equality Tasmania and national advocacy group, just.equal. He who was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 for his LGBTI advocacy.

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