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New South Wales: First Australian State To Legalize Gay Marriage? (VIDEO)

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The findings of a Parliamentary Inquiry released last Friday hold exciting news for same-sex couples in Australia: New South Wales (NSW) could become the first state in the country with the political power to legalize gay marriage. The report itself found that NSW has the power to introduce its own law, given that the bill can sustain the political process within both the Upper and Lower Houses of state-level parliament.

The report comes after steady speculation that Australia would soon face increased pressure to legalize same-sex marriage, following legislation passed in New Zealand establishing it as the 13th country with such rights for same-sex couples. A cross-party group of MPs (Member of Parliament) have collaborated on overhauling a Same-Sex Marriage Bill for introduction into the Upper House of NSW Parliament next session.

In a statement to The Sydney Morning Herald, Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich claimed that the Parliamentary Inquiry has "made history."

Submissions in favour of reform came from across the community - parents, clergy, health and mental health organisations, and prominent individuals from all sides. The number and breadth of submissions in support of marriage equality demonstrates that it is only a matter of time before a change in the law occurs. We look forward to making this a reality in NSW.

Currently, Australian same-sex couples must travel oversees should they wish to get married, though they receive no legal recognition or benefits once they return home. "As soon as we walk back into Australia, we have a piece of paper that means nothing," said Steven Miller in a statement to Australia's Ten News. Miller and his partner have been engaged for four years, waiting to marry until they would be able to recieve benefits as a couple and have their relationship considered valid within the eyes of the law.

A vote is expected to occur by the end of the year.

(h/t Towleroad )

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