Gay Marriage

Australians Probably Won't Have Public Vote on Recognizing Gay Marriages

Left-leaning parties and supporters want the Parliament to make it happen.

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Credit: pumpkinmook / photo on flickr

It appears as though Australians will not be heading to the polls to decide whether the government should recognize marriages between same-sex partners after all. In this case, parties on the left are blocking the public vote, which had been organized as a sort of compromise by conservatives who are part of the country's ruling Coalition and would not legislatively approve same-sex marriage.

But supporters of same-sex marriage in Australia don't want a public vote, though polls show that Australians overwhelmingly support recognition. They object to the cost of having an election for this issue (remember: voting in Australia is mandatory), and gay marriage proponents also oppose having a public vote on a human rights issue. But not a vote by lawmakers who represent the public. Go figure. (Well, I suppose you can't launch a campaign to boot your neighbors out afterward if you don't like how they voted.)

But that path to a Parliament vote is equally complicated, and The West Australian wonders if it might actually take several years more than to legalize it via lawmakers. The issue here is that Australia's Parliament is fragmented across several parties, and most votes are strictly enforced along party lines. The same reason that Australia's Parliament can't get approval for a public vote on gay marriage is essentially the same reason why it hasn't been able to get through the Parliament itself. There hasn't been a strong enough coalition between different groups.

David Leyonhjelm, Australia's libertarian (technically Liberal Democrat) senator, had been trying to push for a same-sex marriage vote in the Parliament. Under the previous government (they've had a change in prime ministers and a new parliamentary election since then), the only way to have gotten gay marriage through the Parliament would have been for the ruling political parties to permit their members to vote their consciences rather than a party line. Attempts to make that happen in the government's ruling Coalition (center-to-right Liberals and Nationalists) failed, and the Coalition's official stance on same-sex marriage was in opposition. So members of those parties in the Parliament were expected to vote against it. Ao it has not been pushed to a vote in the Parliament yet.

The new Parliament keeps the same ruling coalition in charge, so there's a new push on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to get lawmakers to actually vote (and obviously vote "yes"). Read more here.

NEXT: No Free Beer: Texas Judge Strikes Down Law Forbidding Breweries From Selling Distribution Rights

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  1. parties on the left are blocking the public vote, which had been organized as a sort of compromise by conservatives who are part of the country’s ruling Coalition and would not legislatively approve same-sex marriage.

    at least the Australian left is honest about their faith in Democracy.

    1. Ireland — a VERY Catholic country — held a referendum and voted for gay “marriage,”

      WTF Aussies????

      Perhaps that mandatory voting backfiring?

      1. I’m actually down with their notion that a human right shouldn’t be voted on. I wish they felt the same about all our rights.

        1. In theory, I agree.

          But, a “right” to healthcare?

          A “right” to an education?

          Damned if you do, damned … etc

          1. I’m not going to sidetrack the sacred space of an H&R thread to go off-topic and argue which are rights and which are privileges, but yeah, agreed.

            I’m just saying that if one accepts something is a right, having it go to your neighbor for approval is touchy.

            1. For negative rights, I agree.

              For positive rights, you should absolutely get your neighbor’s approval, since he’ll be footing the bill.

      2. Clearly nobody has bothered to read the SkyNews article this article links to. Had they done so they would have noticed this as the reason the Greens party spokesman gave for blocking the plebiscite.

        Senator Di Natale said the proposed plebiscite, promised by the coalition, would be a waste of money designed to delay equality while giving a megaphone to hate and homophobia.

        Notice how Reason’s article gives only one of the three cited reasons.

        Namely, a plebiscite would be:

        * a waste of money;
        * delaying [marriage] equality;
        * giving “a megaphone to hate and homophobia”.

        Notice that last reason. If that were a valid excuse Australians like Senator Di Natale would be urging Americans to abolish their November presidential elections lest those give “a megaphone to hate” and XENOphobia. (He would probably also be urging Americans to repeal their First Amendment–on the ground that that piece of the US constitution gives cover and legal protection to “hate and homophobia”.)

        Another Greens senator Janet Rice claimed:

        the LGBTIQ community…[are] overwhelmingly…opposed to an marriage equality plebiscite because of the harm it will do, particularly to young, same-sex attracted and gender diverse people.

        I look forward to their views on the forthcoming referendum on Aboriginal constitutional recognition. Doubtless they will oppose it so as to prevent all the bigots being given a “megaphone of hate”.

  2. What’s their stance on trannies and cake-baking?

  3. “A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised”

    If a study commissioned jointly by Hustler Magazine, the NRA, and Modern Drunkard found that when a man uses a handgun against his wife, in 72 percent of the cases, “the bitch didn’t know when to quit”? I’d probably take that study with a grain of salt.

    I don’t see why the Australian people would want to forego a plebiscite on principled grounds (because voting on other people’s rights is wrong)–and think that a vote by parliament is more legitimate that way?

    Even if that’s true, it’s counterintuitive as hell. This study, that study, blah, blah, blah, if you think you’re going to win a plebiscite, you go for it.

    Meanwhile, Turnbull is widely thought a back stabber in his own party. Just ask Andrew Bolt. Turnbull isn’t even a Conservative, he’s a capital “L” Liberal–which means like a center-right Republican in American parlance. If Turnbull lost the Conservatives, the coalition might lose the government.

    Why would the Greens want it to go to a legislature that’s dominated by a Liberal Party upstart, who has to depend on support from outside his party to stay in power–the same Conservative Party that opposes gay marriage on principle?

    Looks to me like they just want to use the issue as a wedge in future elections.

    1. Ending slavery was MUCH more important, but an amendment was required.

      Sadly, getting the consent of the governed is becoming much less necessary.

  4. …remember: voting in Australia is mandatory…

    Like wedding cakes in the US.

  5. Philistines!!!!

    They should have 9 people vote like we did in Murica — it’s SO much more legit that way.

  6. and gay marriage proponents also oppose having a public vote on a human rights issue.

    Like, say, gun ownership? Self-defense?

  7. I’m pretty sure lefties objecting to the cost of an election may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.

  8. They object to the cost of having an election for this issue (remember: voting in Australia is mandatory).

    First of all it wouldn’t be an ELECTION. It would be a PLEBISCITE. There’s a difference.

    Secondly, what has mandatory voting got to do with the issue of the cost of such a plebiscite? The cost of holding it would be the same irrespective of whether the turnout was 90% or 9%.

  9. Under the previous government (they’ve had a change in prime ministers and a new parliamentary election since then)…

    Under “the previous government” the prime minister was Malcolm Turnbull. Ever since the federal election on July 2 Malcolm Turnbull remains prime minister of Australia. Perhaps the author is alluding to Turnbull’s predecessor, Tony Abbott. However, he was removed as prime minister by a vote of Australia’s Liberal Party, not by (as the article seems to be suggesting) an election.

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