Supporters of marriage equality have out-petitioned opponents ahead of the ALP National Conference at which Rainbow Labor now believes it has the numbers to change the party’s platform to embrace same-sex marriage.
An Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) petition had 90,000 signatures – 10,000 short of its goal of 100,000.
“We’ve had this extraordinary display of unity among Australians that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life,” ACL managing director Jim Wallace said.
However, the ACL petition was dwarfed by a GetUp! petition in favour of marriage equality which received 140,285 signatures.
A GetUp! marriage equality video released last week has already had more than 2 million views on YouTube, and has attracted international media attention.
Both the ACL and GetUp! will present their petitions to conference delegates.
One of Rainbow Labor’s two official negotiators at the conference, Senator Louise Pratt, confirmed media reports on Tuesday that supporters of marriage equality believed they had the numbers to change the party’s platform to support opening up the Marriage Act to embrace couples regardless of gender.
“Rainbow Labor is feeling confident that the mood within the party for a change in the platform is also the mood of a majority of delegates,” Pratt told the Star Observer.
“Rainbow Labor has argued very strongly for marriage equality and that’s what we believe we have the numbers for.”
Pratt said it had been important to counter claims by opponents that churches might be forced to marry couples against their will in their amendments to the platform.
“It was important to make that clear in our amendments but that is already in the Marriage Act and we would not be intending to change that,” she said.
“Those against the proposed changes have used the argument of churches being forced to marry people as an argument against our proposals but it’s clear that no such proposal was ever on the table.”
The news comes amid growing calls for a conscience vote from within the Liberal Party. Former Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has joined Liberal senators Simon Birmingham and Russell Broadbent in supporting a free vote.
The Star Observer understands Joe Hockey, who is touted as a future Liberal Party leader, also supports a Coalition conscience vote despite being personally opposed to same-sex marriage.
This Saturday, thousands of marriage equality supporters from all over the country are expected to gather in Hyde Park North at noon to march to the conference at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour to rally until 3pm.
The rally has been endorsed by GetUp!, the City of Sydney, Amnesty International, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, PFLAG Australia and Australian Marriage Equality (AME). Equal Love contingents from all states and territories will attend.
“December 3 is an opportunity to be part of history in the making,” AME national convenor Alex Greenwich said.
“By adding your voice of support at the rally you will be encouraging our supporters within the conference to strive for a binding party policy for marriage equality.”
INFO: Keep in touch with the weekend’s proceedings at www.starobserver.com.au