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Support stays strong as bills enter Parliament
Support for marriage equality is sitting solidly at 62 percent, according to new polling commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality.
A further 11 percent of respondents would be more likely to support marriage equality if religious exemptions were in place to ensure that churches did not have to marry same-sex couples if it was against their faith.
The Galaxy poll also found that support has rocketed among younger voters, with 81 percent of people aged 18-24 now supporting reform on the issue.
The news came on the same day that Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced his same-sex marriage bill into the House of Representatives, with co-sponsorship from the Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
In introducing the bill, Bandt cautioned that no one party should seek to try to own the issue, a comment apparently directed at Labor MP Stephen Jones’ plans to introduce his own bill.
“I have been asked a number of times why there is not just one bill on the issue,” Bandt said.
“I and the Greens would like to see one single bill proceed through this place on this issue, co-sponsored by members across the political spectrum.
“The recent addition of people to this debate who haven’t been following it for some time is welcome because the way that we are going to get this bill through Parliament is by changing people’s minds.
“What we cannot do is seek to have any one party own this issue because the state that we are in with the Government and Labor divided on the issue, we will need members of goodwill from the Coalition benches to get this through.
“And that is why, if we are to have a chance of reform, we must proceed softly, softly and carefully and aim to work together with members from all sides of the house, from all backgrounds, to have reform this year.
“The worst thing we could do is bowl this up for a vote to make a political point only to have it defeated.”
Bandt warned that rushing forward too quickly and then seeing a bill defeated would be seized on by those who wished to restrict reform to civil unions for same-sex couples.
“I am … concerned that if we bowl it up for a vote prematurely, we may end up, as some media reports have suggested, and that is with a vote that fails and then a renewed push for civil unions. Let’s be absolutely clear about the status of civil unions — that would entrench two tiers of citizenship in this country.
“We need to allow the Senate inquiry to continue, we need to allay some of the fears that exist around this issue and by doing that, it is my hope that over the coming months we will get more and more people on board.”
In introducing his bill, Jones said that the concept of marriage evolved with society.
“Our concepts of marriage have changed in accordance with societal norms and they will continue to do so,” he said.
“This is reflected in the fact that the Commonwealth laws with regard to marriage have been amended by every government since their inception, and there are many past aspects of marriage that we now look at with amusement, if not horror, including betrothal, dowry, a wife’s vow of obedience, the prohibition on certain inter-race or religious marriages and the idea of conjugal rights.”
The introduction of the two bills came on the same day The Australian newspaper reported that Liberal backbenchers would be allowed a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.
The newspaper quotes anonymous senior Liberal sources who say that Opposition leader Tony Abbott will allow backbenchers to exercise their conscience when voting on the issue — although he is yet to confirm that publicly.
Liberal frontbenchers will still be bound by Coalition policy not to support amending the Marriage Act.
Since the Labor Party amended its party platform to support marriage equality in December, Abbott has stood firm on the party honouring its election promise not to back same-sex marriage.
See Adam Bandt’s full speech in the Parliament below.