Tasmania may become the first Australian state to legalise gay marriage - possibly as early as this year - after Premier Lara Giddings today vowed Labor would legislate it in this term of government.
The proposed laws would also be drafted to allow gay couples from across the country to get married in Tasmania - with Ms Giddings arguing that would help generate an economic boost and more jobs for the state.
The Premier told her party conference that its MPs would back new laws allowing same-sex couples to marry - and had obtained legal advice from the Solicitor General that there was no obstacle to stop it legislating on marriage at a state level.
"Labor has a proud history of tackling discrimination and introducing important social reform," she said.
"I expect the rest of the country will be watching closely as we work through this process.
"It is my hope that the Commonwealth Parliament will also act on this issue in the not too distant future, noting that there is support for same-sex unions on all sides of federal politics."
Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Alex Greenwich said marriage had been covered by state law until 1961, when the Commonwealth took on the powers under "concurrent law".
In areas of law covered by such shared powers, he said it was possible for states to make their own laws on aspects not covered by federal laws.
Because federal marriage laws were amended by former Prime Minister John Howard in 2004 to define marriage as between a man and a woman, it was possible for states to argue that the federal marriage law did not cover same-sex couples - and they were free to legislate for them.
"It basically means regardless of what happens federally, same sex couples will likely to able to marry on Australian soil, possibly as early as this year," he said.
In a statement to the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, constitutional law expert, Professor George Williams, said the power to make marriage laws is shared by the Commonwealth and the states.
He told them if the Commonwealth refuses to make a law for one type of marriage - in this case same-sex marriage - that power falls to the states.
A private members bill on gay marriage is widely expected to fail in the federal parliament when put to a vote later this year.
Federal Labor MPs will have a conscience vote, but Opposition Leader Tony Abbott - who staunchly opposes gay marriage - has said Coalition MPs will vote against the legislation.
After Tasmanian Labor had voted three times to endorse the principle of gay marriage, Ms Giddings said "the time has come to act decisively on this issue".
"Eleven countries now recognise same sex marriage; including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden," she said.
"Likewise, jurisdictions in Mexico and the United States, have introduced state-based laws, so there is precedent for the Tasmanian Labor Party's position.
"There will always be excuses, arguments and questions of timing when moving on difficult and controversial issues.
"But just as we have responded to other forms of discrimination throughout history, there comes a time when no amount of excuses should stand in the way of doing what is right.
"If Parliaments of the past did not have the courage to respond to changing community values then Tasmania would still be a state where homosexuality is illegal, where women don't have the vote and no apology has been made to the Aboriginal stolen generations.
"Labor is proud to be taking a stand today to say that discrimination on the basis of sexuality should end."