SAME-SEX marriage will be the only guaranteed winner at next month’s Griffith by-election with the two major party candidates both supporting it.
Following the retirement of former Prime Minister and Griffith federal Labor MP Kevin Rudd last year, House of Representatives Speaker Bronwyn Bishop this week announced a by- election for the Queensland federal electorate on February 8.
What is being seen as a coup for the marriage equality movement, candidates from both Labor and Liberal-National parties have expressed their intention to vote in favour of same- sex marriage should the issue come to the floor of parliament.
Brisbane employment lawyer Terri Butler was endorsed late last year as the Labor Griffith candidate, while the Coalition’s candidate for the 2013 election, ophthalmologist and former Australian Medical Association president Bill Glasson, will run again.
Both candidates have said they would vote in favour of same-sex marriage, but Glasson’s vote is dependent on Prime Minister Tony Abbott allowing his Coalition party a conscience vote.
“If I was given the opportunity of a conscience vote, then I would certainly have no hesitation in supporting marriage for all Australians,” Glasson told Fairfax.
Labor parliamentarians are already guaranteed a conscience vote should the issue come to the floor, but Butler doubted the government would legislate for change this year.
“I would say if I were elected and I had a vote, you know where mine would be cast,” she said.
“But this is a question squarely for the Prime Minister – does he believe in equality or not?”
Leichhardt federal Coalition MP Warren Entsch also told News Corp recently that he believed the Prime Minister would allow his party to vote according to their conscience in 2014, possibly as soon as the next parliamentary sitting period.
“I can’t really comment on what Warren Entsch knows or doesn’t know, but I think it’s indicative of a broader groundswell of support in the Coalition ranks for same-sex marriage,” Butler said.
“They feel, I think, rightly aggrieved that they’re not in a position to back a bill that would allow for same-sex marriage.”