ANOTHER possible member of the steadily growing number of federal Liberal Party MPs declaring their support for marriage equality is Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, after he announced his support for a free vote on the matter today.
Described as a “rising star” of the Coalition government, Frydenberg threw his support behind a free vote on same-sex marriage by saying that it would “become part of the Australian way of life” due to shifting societal views.
“I think if you look at the history of movements such as this I think one thing is certain that over time, gay marriage will become part of the Australian way of life,” Frydenberg said.
Frydenberg told ABC News that it was after encountering personal stories shared by advocates that led him to change his mind, including an emotional meeting with a lesbian couple.
“I’ve had two women come to see me who clearly have a great deal of love for each other… the meeting ended in tears,” he said.
Frydenberg also referred to countries similar to Australia like New Zealand, the UK and Canada that had already legalised same-sex marriage.
“Therefore I think it’s appropriate that when this issue comes before the Liberal party room that we do have a conscience vote,” he said.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national director Rodney Croome praised Frydenberg’s conversion, saying that, along with over a dozen Liberal MPs and senators, further pressure is on Abbott to allow a free vote.
“I welcome Josh Frydenberg’s acknowledgement that Australians are comfortable with marriage equality and that an increasing number of Liberal MPs support it,” Croome said.
The news comes towards the end of a tumultuous period for marriage equality advocates and detractors, following AME and the Australian Christian Lobby’s email campaign over the free vote issue.
In addition, NSW Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm’s Freedom to Marry bill tabled for the Senate today but was withdrawn from debate.
Leyonhjelm said he would not bring on the vote until he believed there was enough support in Parliament to pass the legislation.
(Editor’s note: this story was updated at 3.43pm on March 26)