Australia Votes on Same-Sex Marriage

Australia Votes on Same-Sex Marriage

When people were asked whether they approved or disapproved of holding "a voluntary postal plebiscite followed by a vote in parliament", 43% were in favour and 38% against.

Anna Brown, an LGBT activist and representative of the Equality Campaign, vowed to fight a postal plebiscite in court if Parliament continued to refuse to vote on same-sex marriage.

"Advice we received from [Ron Merkel QC] last week indicated the government can not act without specific legislation and a specific budgetary appropriation", said just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome in a statement.

An ABC survey shows that most Australians would support gay marriage in a vote.

On Monday, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government would re-introduce the same legislation, but accompanied by a contingency plan to counter any rejection by the upper house, where the government does not have a majority.

But same-sex marriage advocates say a plebiscite could lead to an ugly, divisive and unnecessary debate.

"We are proposing to use the same constitutional and relevant equivalent legal powers of the ABS to collect statistical information in order to give all Australians enrolled on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll a say by voluntary postal vote on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry". Voting on the plebiscite would be compulsory and failure to vote would be punishable by a fine.

A postal vote would allow Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to gain support of liberals and conservatives in the center-right coalition.

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The postal plebiscite will cost an estimated $122 million, approximately $50 million less than a full, compulsory plebiscite, and $122 million more than a free vote in parliament.

A postal vote would see ballot papers in mailboxes from September 12 and a result declared on November 15.

If the Senate again blocks the plebiscite, the government intends to hold a voluntary postal plebiscite by November 15.

"I've said for many years that I want marriage equality in Australia, and I've campaigned for it", Mr. Pyne said on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program "Q&A".

"I am disappointed for hundreds of thousands of Australians that their Prime Minister has once again let them down", he said last night.

On Monday, Turnbull reportedly cautioned cabinet colleagues over the encouragement of some backbenchers to launch a bill that would have pushed for a free vote on gay marriage. The government on Tuesday endorsed the party decision to ask the Senate this week to reconsider allowing the plebiscite, which would be held November 25.

"I'm profoundly disappointed that we weren't able to do it now because I think the issue will continue to drag on", he said.

'A postal vote will be an expensive, non-binding, illegitimate process that will provide a platform for hate and go nowhere, ' said national spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Shelley Argent.

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