Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has sparked intense speculation he may be reconsidering his view on same-sex marriage after a stellar show of support with Rainbow Labor activists at a drinks session last night.

Rudd mingled and posed for happy snaps with gay activists as darkness fell at Cohibar at Darling Harbour’s charmingly-garish Harbourside shopping mall. He extended his warm congratulations on numerous occasions over changes made earlier in the day to the ALP’s platform to recognise marriage equality.

Labor MPs, including Rudd, will now be bound by a conscience vote on the issue after right wing delegates and a handful of the industrial left voted at ALP’s 46th National Conference to inscribe an exception to party rules, effectively creating a get out clause for the Prime Minister and the Catholic right.

The issue will be considered by Parliament next year when amendments to the Marriage Act are introduced by the Left’s Stephen Jones. Rudd and 148 other members will get a vote but it only stands a chance of passing if the Coalition allows a conscience vote too.

Last year, it was revealed Rudd had struck a deal with the Left at the 2009 conference to campaign on the divisive issue in the lead up to the 2010 election, however the plans evaporated when Julia Gillard knifed her rival with the assistance of the NSW Right.

Gay activists had blamed the then-PM for guillotining debate two years ago when he stated his view that marriage should be exclusively between a man and a woman. His sister Loree recently claimed the drift to equality was being driven by a “global gay Gestapo”, however it appears Rudd’s personal position is now supremely malleable. Daughter Jess recently took to Twitter to commend Penny Wong’s views on the matter.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Minister told Crikey this afternoon that Rudd “has been repulsed by homophobic remarks made during the broader debate.”

“Mr Rudd respects those who have been long-term supporters of same-sex marriage. Mr Rudd also respects the decision of the Conference on this matter.

“He will examine closely any legislative proposals for change.”

Overnight, News Limited Sundays scribe Sam Maiden reported that Rudd had renewed efforts to launch a prime ministerial coup before next May’s budget. Previously the Daily Telegraph had reported that a “November coup” was on the cards – a deadline that lapsed last week.

A Rainbow Labor spokesperson, Neil Pharoah, said he was chuffed that the Foreign Minister had turned up to spread the love and that the group would be talking to Rudd to shore up his support over the next few weeks.

“It was excellent for him to come and enjoy the celebration and he was definitely been very supportive of everything Rainbow Labor has been doing over the past few weeks,” Pharoah said.

Others celebrating last night included representatives from the National Union of Workers that had supported the Left’s bid to block a conscience vote and bind MPs to lock in behind the newly-progressive platform.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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