Historic opportunity missed Thu 27 September 2012 Lara Giddings Premier Download hi-res version The Premier, Lara Giddings, tonight expressed her disappointment that Marriage Equality laws had been voted down in the Legislative Council. Ms Giddings said Tasmania had missed an opportunity to lead the nation in ending discrimination against same sex couples. "I share the disappointment of many people from around Tasmania and around the country who were hoping Tasmania would become a beacon of acceptance for same sex couples. "Upper House MPs who voted against this legislation have placed themselves on the wrong side of history. "It concerns me that some members have hidden behind legal arguments and cost implications to vote against what is at its heart a fundamental issue of equal rights for same sex couples. "Only the High Court can make a definitive ruling on the legal questions surrounding marriage equality and the fact that the Upper House has prevented this from even being tested will come as a disappointment to many. "When we are talking about extending rights and removing discrimination, how much is too much to pay - $10,000, $100,000 even $200,000? "The cost argument doesn't hold water when you consider the millions that would have flown to the Tasmanian economy by acting first on this issue. "When history reflects on this debate people will not remember the legal excuses about why this couldn't be done, but they will remember the individuals who failed to support change. Despite the defeat of the legislation, Ms Giddings said the Tasmanian debate had put the issue of marriage equality on the national agenda. "This debate has helped to raise awareness of the importance of equality and has made a positive contribution to the national discussion. "I have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of correspondence from across the country from people thanking Tasmania for leading the way on this important issue. "I have heard moving stories of couples wanting to celebrate their love, of parents wanting their children to experience the joy of marriage and of brothers and sisters wanting the same rights of marriage for their siblings. "There is simply no compelling reason for this discrimination to continue. "I would like to acknowledge the work of those who have campaigned for this issue over many years, including Rodney Croome, Young Labor's Robbie Moore and Greens Leader, Nick McKim. "This defeat does not diminish their tireless and courageous work, in fact, I hope it only strengthens their resolve. "While Tasmania has missed the opportunity to lead the nation, I firmly believe the tide of change is rising and reform is inevitable. "A number of states and territories are currently considering legislation including South Australia, NSW, the Northern Territory and the ACT. "It is likely that New Zealand will also vote in support of marriage equality in the near future. "My personal belief in the need to remove this last example of discrimination against same sex couples in our society has not been diminished and it is a cause I will continue to champion."