A report has paved the way for the possibility for same sex marriage to be handled by the NSW state government with other states expected to follow.

Marriage equality advocates say they will step up their campaign for state same-sex marriage laws following the release today of a NSW parliament report saying ​the state has the power to enact such a law.


Australian Marriage Equality NSW convener, Malcolm McPherson, welcomed the report saying,


"The common misunderstanding that a state same-sex marriage law would be unconstitutional has been shown to be false. This removes one of the main impediments to state same-sex marriage law."


"We will now step up our campaign to have a NSW same-sex marriage law enacted, with lobbying of key MPs and the mobilisation of supporters across NSW."


AME national director, Rodney Croome, said the report will encourage other states to move forward.


"The NSW report has effectively opened the door to a state-by-state approach to marriage equality, should the federal parliament fail to enact reform nationally."


"We will now see an upsurge across Australia of marriage equality supporters lobbying their state or territory politicians." 


State same-sex marriage laws have been tabled in NSW, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, and have been foreshadowed in the ACT.


​According to the report, issued by the NSW Upper House Socal Issues Committee today,


"The Committee reached the conclusion that the New South Wales Parliament has the power to legislate on the topic of marriage, including same-sex marriage. However, if New South Wales chooses to exercise that power and enact a law for same-sex marriage, the law could be subject to challenge in the High Court of Australia. The outcome of such a case is uncertain and therefore equal marriage rights for all Australians may best be achieved under Commonwealth legislation."​


​Mr McPherson said reform at a federal level would be best, but any federal amendment to allow same-sex marriages could also be subject to a High Court challenge.​


"Federal reform would be preferable because it will cover the the greatest number of same-sex couples, but because the federal parliament continues to balk at this urgent reform NSW should take the lead." ​


The NSW inquiry received 10,000 submissions, 55% of which favoured the reform.


Mr McPherson said,


"The fact that so many people expressed support for a NSW same-sex marriage law during the parliamentary inquiry is a sign that this reform enjoys popular support, and it gives parliament a mandate to act."


"This reform will offer recognition and support to same-sex couples in committed loving relationships. It will also enable NSW to enjoy the economic benefits of being seen as an open and inclusive community by the rest of the world".


​Mr McPherson went on to welcome the report's dismissal of civil unions as a viable alternative to state same-sex marriage.​


"Civil unions can never be a substitute for full equality", he said.


Yesterday, in South Australia a same-sex marriage bill was defeated in the state Lower House when the Liberals refused to allow a conscience vote due to concerns about the constitutionality of the bill.


Last year a Tasmanian same-sex marriage bill was defeated by just two votes in the state Upper House when some Upper House members expressed similar concerns.