216220_10151595698400516_43016426_nThe Labor Party’s LGBTI advocacy network says the Greens should focus on shoring up a free vote for the Liberal Party instead taking a bill to Parliament again.

Yesterday, Greens deputy leader and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt announced he would be putting his Marriage Equality Amendment Bill to a vote in the Lower House on June 6.

But Rainbow Labor national co-convenor Neil Pharoah said the only way this bill would succeed was if a conscience vote was granted to both major parties.

“The only way we’re going to be successful in passing marriage equality, which is Rainbow Labor’s objective amongst others, is if both sides of Parliament have a conscience vote,” he said.

“My reflection on this is we need less stunt and more action – why isn’t Bandt talking to Abbott and trying to secure a conscience vote on the issue?

“Instead of bringing on another vote which is destined to fail without a conscience vote from the Liberal Party, why aren’t the Greens focussing on that outcome?”

The Greens deputy leader called for a united approach to pass the bill.

“Instead of trying to score political points, the leaders of Rainbow Labor need to focus on getting Julia Gillard to shift her opposition to marriage equality,” he said.

“We need the movement to be united and focused on getting Tony Abbott to allow a conscience vote on June 6.”

Pharoah said the Greens had not contacted Rainbow Labor about the bill, despite calls from Australian Marriage Equality for MPs from the major parties to co-sponsor it.

Some marriage equality advocates have argued that had Labor Party parliamentarians not been granted a conscience vote and voted as a caucus, the marriage bill would have succeeded last year.

Pharoah said Rainbow Labor had worked hard to move the party’s position to support marriage equality at the 2011 ALP National Conference and get a conscience vote, despite strong opposing views held by some federal parliamentarians.

“Even if every single person in the Labor Party was bound, we still wouldn’t have the independents’ support,” Pharoah said.

“If we get a conscience vote from Tony Abbott now, do I think we can get marriage equality up? Absolutely.”

He said Rainbow Labor had fought for change in the party, currently promoting candidates who support marriage equality, but he said they needed Abbott to grant a conscience vote.

It’s been eight months since the last bill was voted down 98 votes to 42 in the Lower House.

Throsby MP Stephen Jones, who co-sponsored last year’s failed marriage equality bill, was not available for comment. Liberal Higgins MP Kelly O’Dwyer, who has indicated support for marriage equality, did not respond to requests for comment.

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