NSW sparks new gay wedding push

A NATIONWIDE push to allow same-sex marriage is under way after a NSW parliamentary committee found it can be legislated at a state level.

NSW looks set to be the first Australian state to make the move, with Premier Barry O'Farrell and Opposition Leader John Robertson having voiced support for same-sex marriage.

It is hoped a private member's bill will be voted on by the end of the year.

On Friday, a report from the social issues committee inquiry found it was constitutionally valid for NSW to legislate on same-sex marriage.

The findings put to rest arguments that Federal Parliament has sole responsibility for marriage equality laws and that progressing same-sex marriage is not a matter for the states.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the report's findings had implications nationwide.


''We will be lobbying state MPs in earnest - both in NSW and in those other states such as Tasmania and South Australia where reform has a good chance of passing,'' he said.

''I hope to see same-sex couples marrying in at least one state or territory by the end of the year.''

Mr Croome said marriage equality at a federal level would be preferable as it would allow all same-sex couples in Australia to wed. ''But, as long as the Federal Parliament continues to baulk at reform, the states are the way forward.''

Mr O'Farrell has previously said that he would prefer Federal Parliament to change the Marriage Act.

But he pledged to go it alone if the inquiry found the state can act by itself and promised a conscience vote on the issue.

The committee's findings have been welcomed by a cross-party working group - comprised of MPs from across the political spectrum - which described it as ''a momentous step forward''.

Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, a member of the group, called on Mr O'Farrell and Mr Robertson to take their parties with them on the issue.

''Both the Premier and Opposition Leader have publicly backed marriage equality - it is time they called on their parties to do the same,'' she said.

Ms Faruqi said marriage equality should not be a conscience issue.

''It's about removing discrimination from law,'' she said.

''It's not good enough to allow a conscience vote on the rights of others.'' AAP