Federal Liberal MPs have overwhelmingly decided to stick with their current policy on same-sex marriage – a plebiscite on whether the law should be changed.
Only seven MPs voted to change the policy: Warren Entsch and Trevor Evans (Qld), Tim Wilson and Jason Wood (Vic), John Alexander and Trent Zimmerman (NSW) and Senator Dean Smith (WA).
The government plans to resubmit legislation that would allow a plebiscite on same-sex marriage to be put to parliament again. If this legislation fails – which is almost certain – the government will move ahead with a postal plebiscite.
Government frontbencher Mathias Cormann said he hopes the Senate will reconsider its earlier opposition to a compulsory plebiscite.
“The government is absolutely committed to keep faith with the commitment we made to the Australian people,” he said.
The Coalition joint party room meeting tomorrow will discuss the timing of the next steps, but the compulsory plebiscite bill will be brought back to parliament this week.
Marriage Equality advocate Alex Greenwich (pictured, right) says the Liberal party room had voted to “delay” same-sex marriage.
“There will be disappointment felt from coast to coast tonight in Australia as the government yet again delay, drag-on and disappoint people with their decision today,” he said.
“They had the opportunity to resolve this matter through a vote in parliament and they said no.”
Long-time marriage equality advocate Rodney Croome said it was very disappointing that the Liberal Party had failed to do the right thing by the Australian people, but there is still a way forward.
“We urge Liberals who support marriage equality to table marriage equality legislation and cross the floor to vote for it,” he said.
“Today’s decision has let down the millions of Australians who support marriage equality and will only inspire us to push harder for this vital reform.”
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokesperson Shelley Argent said they would lobby the Senate to continue to oppose a plebiscite and move to have a postal vote struck down in the High Court.
“We do not accept, and will never accept, the demeaning terms and conditions the government has attached to marriage equality,” she said.
Just.equal spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh said the plebiscite was set to fail (again) in the Senate and the postal vote may well fail in the High Court.
“We urge sensible Liberals to short circuit this continuing national embarrassment and force a vote.”
PFLAG has received legal advice from leading QC, Ron Merkel, that a postal vote is unlikely to be constitutional without enabling legislation and a specific budgetary allocation.