Angela Pollard and her partner Darlene Cook are happy about changes to same sex marriage policy within the ALP.
Angela Pollard and her partner Darlene Cook are happy about changes to same sex marriage policy within the ALP. Doug Eaton

Yellowcake but no wedding cake

IT WAS a case of yellowcake getting the nod while wedding cake requires a conscience at the Australian Labor Party national conference on the weekend.

The ALP conference voted to allow uranium exports to India, despite it being a nation outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but same-sex marriage will have to wait until a conscience vote on the issue in Parliament in 2012.

Local couple Angela Pollard and Darlene Cook have lived together as a couple for 17 years, but until two days ago the right to legally marry each other in NSW was an impossibility.

Now that door has at least been pried open by the historic vote on Saturday at the ALP national conference.

The decision to allow a vote on same-sex marriage has been hailed by many as a victory in the long-standing fight for equal rights in Australia, but the fight is not over yet, says Ms Pollard, a lawyer and member of Equal Love, a nationwide campaign for marriage equality in Australia.

"I don't think it will be passed in Parliament in 2012 with a conscience vote," she said.

"It will be some years yet before it actually happens, but it is inevitability. We are making moral progress."

While anti-discrimination legislation (with some exemptions allowed for religious organisations) has paved the way for progress on many fronts, same sex marriage rights is one of the final frontiers, Ms Pollard said.

"Not being allowed to marry is basically discrimination. People may have heart-felt religious views, but we have a secular government and this is a breach of human rights," Ms Pollard said.

While Ms Pollard and Ms Cook have no plans to get married even when the legislation is passed, the public acceptance of their relationship will make their day-to-day lives easier, Ms Pollard said.

"The Northern Rivers is very supportive of same-sex relationships, but when we travel from this region you do have experiences where you sense the discrimination and disapproval," she said.

"When gay and lesbian marriage was approved in parts of Europe, the public perception changed within a short period of time.

"People become more accepting when they see the State recognise people's dignity."