TASMANIA'S bid to become the first state to allow gay couples to tie the knot is all but over.
Debate on same sex marriage was adjourned in the Legislative Council late last night, but early speakers confirmed predictions the bill would be narrowly defeated.
Attention focused on the four independent upper house members who had refused to declare their voting intentions in the lead up to the historic debate.
Of those, only Rosevears MLC Kerry Finch and Apsley MLC Tania Rattray spoke yesterday.
Mr Finch supported the bill, while Ms Rattray was opposed.
In contrast to the emotional speeches in the House of Assembly last month, many upper house members focused on the legal risks of becoming the first state to legalise gay marriage.
Ms Rattray acknowledged community attitudes on gay marriage were changing, but not enough to justify Tasmania going it alone.
``Tasmania should be cautious about diving head first into an area with a potentially expensive High Court constitutional challenge as a likely result.''
Without Ms Rattray's support, a tie was the best that marriage equality advocates could hope for.
That gives President Sue Smith the deciding vote and she is expected to side with those against.
At the end of last night four MLCs had spoken in favour and three against.
Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest opened the debate with an hour-long speech urging her colleagues to consider what they would want if one of their children was gay.
``Would you want each of your children to be treated the same way, able to express and receive love in the same way and with the same community and legal recognition as their sibling or siblings? To my mind this is the ultimate test.''
She also said MLCs should not be afraid of a High Court challenge.
``If people never acted on issues or weren't willing to challenge norms of the day when they believe it is right to do so, for fear of a challenge, very little would be accomplished.''
Western Tiers MLC Greg Hall confirmed he would vote against the bill as expected.
Labor's Craig Farrell said he would support the bill, not because it was his party's policy but because it was the right thing to do.
Hobart MLC Rob Valentine was also in favour of same-sex marriage.
All MLCs were expected to have their say after weeks of intense lobbying from both sides.
Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin was part way through her speech when debate was adjourned at 10.45pm.
Ms Goodwin said she did not oppose the bill on religious or moral grounds, but she had legal and constitutional concerns.
The remaining six independent MLCs will get their chance to speak today.