Four Labor Senators introduced a fourth marriage equality bill into the federal Parliament Monday as the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon expressed doubts same-sex marriage would become law this year.

The Marriage Amendment Bill (No.2) 2012 was introduced into the Senate by Northern Territory Senator Trish Crossin (pictured) and sponsored by Victorian Senator Gavin Marshall, Western Australian Senator Louise Pratt and Tasmanian Senator Carol Brown.

The debate on marriage equality continued in the Lower House Monday as 15 MPs spoke to Labor MP Stephen Jones’ private member’s bill.

There are now two private members’ bills in both houses.

It’s believed senior Labor figures were pushing for a vote on gay marriage to clear it off the agenda.

Five government ministers supported Jones’ bill including Roxon, Education Minister Peter Garrett and Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare.

While Roxon threw her support behind the bill, she said she believed marriage equality would not become a reality until the Coalition allowed a conscience vote on the issue.

“I am not confident, though, that this will be the year that same-sex marriage will become law,” she said.

“I believe that will happen when both sides of politics allow their MPs a free vote on this issue.”

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would support the law change but his hands were tied.

“Were however, a free vote to be permitted I would support legislation which recognised same-sex couples as being described as in a marriage,” he said.

Turnbull urged marriage equality advocates to consider civil unions, believing a conscience vote for Coalition MPs would still not garner the numbers needed to pass the changes.

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