A GROUP of Liberal MPs are pushing to legislate marriage equality before the next election.

At least five have held discussions on framing legislation to force a resolution on same-sex marriage, according to The Australian.

Anonymous senior conservative MPs said marriage equality would become a leadership issue for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“If anything occurs on gay marriage in the partyroom the next thing that will happen will be a spill motion—that day,” said one.

“And it doesn’t matter if it is endorsed by the PM or not.”

Turnbull, who supports marriage equality, yesterday ruled out a vote in this term of government, following leaked audio of Christopher Pyne saying policy change would be “sooner than everyone thinks”.

“We will not support a vote on gay marriage in the parliament until there has been a plebiscite,” said Turnbull.

A vote on marriage equality could be initiated in parliament via a suspension of standing orders, and would require an absolute majority on 76 votes to pass.

The legislation being considered includes exemptions for religious freedoms, allowing priests to refuse to conduct same-sex weddings, modelled on recommendations from a Senate report in February.

Some MPs yesterday re-endorsed the proposed non-compulsory postal vote plebiscite compromise that Peter Dutton proposed earlier this year.

Liberal National Party MP George Christenson backed the postal vote proposal but warned that ditching the plebiscite would bring the Coalition agreement with the Nationals into question.

“Quite obviously, [the plebiscite] is one of the key points in the agreement,” he said.

“If the Liberal party can no longer agree to that point of the agreement, the agreement needs to be renegotiated.”

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