The push for a parliamentary debate on marriage equality is growing, with the ALP’s left faction pushing for a policy reversal on the issue and independent Senator Nick Xenophon adding his voice to those calling for a conscience vote.
Last week in Canberra, 130 members of the national Left of the ALP came together to demand key policy shifts of the Government as polls showed the party was continuing to bleed votes to the Greens.
The Labor Left have called for the party to reverse its opposition to same-sex marriage, to allow MPs more leeway in speaking their minds, and for the rank and file of the party to have a greater say in forming policies.
Later in the week Left faction co-convenor Senator Doug Cameron told Fairfax papers that there would be a “huge push” for the party to support same-sex marriage at the next Federal ALP conference in June next year.
Cameron called the ALP’s current policy on the issue “bizarre”, and said governments and parties should not be telling people how to live their lives.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) campaign coordinator Rodney Croome told Southern Star Observer he was finding private support for marriage equality across the parliament and political lines.
“Last week representatives of AME spoke with many Labor, Coalition and independent MPs, and we were encouraged by the increased level of support for marriage equality,” he said.
“We were pleased with the outcome of a meeting with Senator Xenophon, who indicated strong support for a conscience vote on marriage equality and openness to discussing the need for that reform although his preference is for a national civil union scheme.
“AME believes a national civil union scheme will not provide same-sex partners with equal rights and recognition and will be a road block to marriage equality rather than a step towards it, but we respect Senator Xenophon’s serious consideration of the issues and look forward to talking with him further.”
Senator Xenophon confirmed the meeting and said he understood support for civil unions in the GLBTI community was mixed.
“Some feel it’s at least a step in the right direction, others say that it would hold back the cause of equality in terms of same-sex marriage,” he told Southern Star Observer.
“My position is not that of the Greens and others, but my position is still much further than the two major parties.”
Xenophon left open the possibility that he might be persuaded by arguments for marriage equality.
“This should be a conscience vote for the major parties. I will keep an open mind to the arguments, but what I am sure of is that at the very least we need to go down the path of civil unions,” he said.