No conscience vote for Tas Libs: Hodgman
Tasmanian opposition leader Will Hodgman has come under fire for refusing to allow Liberal MPs a conscience vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has announced the state government will introduce state-based same-sex marriage legislation if same-sex marriage fails to proceed at the federal level.
But Hodgman argued that even if Liberal MPs were given a conscience vote they would vote against same-sex marriage anyway.
“The fact is the Tasmanian Liberal Party has the same position now that we did last year, when it was last voted on," he said.
"We've got a position, it's stated clearly and it's based on our view that the Commonwealth definition of marriage [between a man and a woman] should apply in Tasmania."
Giddings described Hodgman’s stance as cowardly and said he should grant a conscience vote so his members can explain to their electorates why they think discrimination should continue.
"If the entire Liberal Party is united against marriage equality, as Mr Hodgman claims, then why not grant a free vote on the issue?" she said.
LGBTI rights advocate Rodney Croome said Hodgman was mistaken in his belief all Liberal MPs would vote against marriage equality.
"I've spoken to quite a few members of the Tasmanian Liberal Party about this issue and I know some of them would vote for marriage equality if they were given the opportunity," he said.
Greens MP Kim Booth said Hodgman was “terrified that he may be shown up by some of his other Liberal colleagues."
"If they give a conscience vote on this issue I think you will find there's many people who are far more progressive and far more enlightened and not living in the past, like Will Hodgman is on this issue," Booth said.
While the government is sure any such legislation could easily pass the lower house, numbers in the upper house remain uncertain.