KEVIN Rudd has guaranteed he will resist any attempt at this week's Australian Labor Party conference to allow gay marriage or civil unions that mimic marriage.
After the party's Tasmanian branch narrowly backed a motion endorsing gay marriage at the weekend, the Prime Minister said through a spokesman yesterday that marriage was a commitment between a man and a woman.
"We support the removal of discrimination from same-sex couples and from de facto heterosexual couples when it comes to basic arrangements in terms of tax, superannuation and the rest, and also a nationally consistent relationships register," the spokesman said. "But when it comes to civil unions, as it is described, civil unions mean the effective amendment of the Marriage Act, and that is something we don't support."
The Australian Christian Lobby demanded Mr Rudd recommit to his pre-election promise not to allow any movement on gay marriage or civil unions.
"Minority lifestyles should be respected but cannot be expected to dictate society norms as this 2per cent or less of the population seems intent on doing," ACL managing director Jim Wallace said. "Evangelical and orthodox Christians have shown great consideration over Labor's removal of discrimination against same-sex couples in financial and legal areas over the past year.
"However, the vast majority are strongly opposed to allowing these aggressive activists to undermine an institution as fundamental to society and marriage for their political objectives."
At least two pro-gay groups within Labor are expected to press for reform at the conference, which begins on Thursday. But senior factional figures concede there is little chance of the conference backing any change because Mr Rudd's view is widely accepted.
Senior government figures contend the conference should actually be congratulating the Prime Minister for delivering equality to all couples in basic laws other than marriage.
The conference could also see a push by delegates from the ACT for the federal government to allow it greater legislative autonomy. The commonwealth has twice used constitutional powers to overrule attempted reform on gay relationship law in the ACT in recent years.
Sources said although there would be no direct ACT push to allow reform on gay issues, the delegates would seek to make the point that the federal government's ability to override territory legislation means ACT residents have fewer rights than other Australians.