Fact: There is one thing standing in the way of same sex marriage in Australia, and one thing only.
Australia could have legal same sex marriage this week if Malcolm Turnbull was willing, and here’s why.
Right now, there are a majority of pro-same sex marriage politicians in the Australian parliament, and there are two marriage equality bills currently being considered by the Parliament, one authored by the ALP and the other by the Greens.
But the pro-same sex marriage politicians from the Coalition are not allowed to vote in favour of marriage equality because the Liberal and National Party will not give their MPs and Senators a free vote in the parliament. Therefore, both of those bills will fail to pass.
Instead, Malcolm Turnbull is proposing a plebiscite; that is, the Government will ask the Australian public to vote on the question of legalising same sex marriage.
In order to have a plebiscite, the parliament will need to pass legislation through the House of Representatives and the Senate to get one. Currently, there’s no guarantee that legislation will pass, as the Greens and a number of Senate crossbenchers have indicated they will block it.
Bill Shorten labelled the plebiscite a glorified opinion poll in a press conference earlier today.
“Our concern is … the emotional torment of a teenager grappling with their sexual identity, is that really worth having this government opinion poll for? Is it really worth some of the evidence that we’ve seen of the experiences of hate and homophobia which this debate, this government opinion poll would licence?” he said.
But the Labor Party has yet to confirm whether or not they will block the plebiscite legislation.
The Attorney-General, Liberal Senator George Brandis, today said, “I call on Bill Shorten to get out of the way, to allow the plebiscite bill passage through the Senate, to allow the Australian people to have their say and, importantly, in the event that there is a yes vote in the plebiscite, to allow there to be marriage equality in Australia by early next year.”
Yet there are a number of problems with a plebiscite.
Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and Kate De Brito discuss marriage equality on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
Firstly, we know that a majority of Australians support marriage equality. Poll after poll after poll has shown this to be the case. In fact, polling conducted by Essential Media two weeks ago shows that 57 per cent of the country is in favour of legalising same sex marriage.
Secondly, it will cost Australian taxpayers something in the order of $175 million to run.