A gay Australian senator has called on the Australian Capital Territory to stand by its proposed civil partnership laws led by John Stanhope, in reaction to church and political opposition.

The leader of the Federal Greens, Bob Brown, described Prime Minister John Howard as a bigot for vowing to block legislation which would give gay couples equal marriage rights.

Senator Brown, who has been in a relationship with his partner, Paul Thomas for ten years, said: “”For him, somehow, marriage falls outside all other areas of equality. That’s just nonsense. ”I think Jon Stanhope is showing an honourable upfrontedness, which a lot of his federal colleagues could practice.”

Anglican Bishop George Browning and Assistant Bishop Trevor Edwards, from Canberra, one of the areas which would implement the law, stated support for the federal government and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who has vowed to block laws allowing same sex unions.

The bishops said in a statement, “While the desire to remove discrimination and provide legal protection to same sex relationships is thoroughly commendable, we believe a registration system such as exists in Tasmania would guarantee that objective.”

“We believe this proposal actually threatens and compromises the traditional Christian view of marriage between a man and a woman.”