FIVE votes in the House of Representatives — and a free vote at that — is now all that is required for marriage equality to become a reality in Australia after another Labor MP announced his support towards the close of last year.
Shadow Indigenous Affairs and Ageing Minister and Blair federal MP Shayne Neumann has confirmed his newfound support of marriage equality after previously ruling out support in 2013.
[showads ad=MREC] News of his change of heart came right before Christmas, when he acknowledged public opinion had shifted on the issue.
“I have always encouraged local residents to contact me to let me know their views,” Neumann said in a statement sent to the Star Observer.
“I appreciate those people who have done so over the years about marriage equality.
“I recognise that Australian public opinion has changed considerably in favour of marriage equality.
Neumann, who one of Labor’s few remaining MPs opposed to marriage equality, had based his stance on his own opinion and that of his electorates’.
“Last time I voted against same-sex marriage when the legislation came before the House of Representatives… and I haven’t changed my position,” Neumann said three years ago.
“I sat on the committee that looked at the legislation… and I was unconvinced by the arguments. If the same legislation came before the house again I wouldn’t change my mind.”
However, referring to the 2015 National Labor Conference where members voted on a policy to introduce a vote on marriage equality within the first 100 days of a Labor government, Neumann said he supported the changes.
“As a member of Labor’s front bench I will support Labor’s policy on marriage equality,” he said.
“I will now vote for marriage equality.”
Advocates have welcomed Neumann’s support.
“Across the nation MPs are listening to the personal stories of their constituents and realising why marriage equality matters,” Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said.
“A vote in parliament will be quicker and cheaper than a plebiscite and we hope to have the numbers to achieve marriage equality in 2016.
“This is important because, regardless of a plebiscite, only parliament can amend the Marriage Act.”
A national plebiscite on marriage equality would be pursued by the Turnbull Coalition government should it win re-election, which Labor brandished as a waste of money and a platform for bullies to attack the LGBTI community.