The new parliamentary secretary for the aDamby_2rts, Labor MP Michael Danby, has told constituents he won’t support a marriage equality bill until the Coalition is given a free vote.

In a letter to constituents, the Melbourne Ports MP said he didn’t think it was fair that just half the Parliament had a free vote while the other half didn’t.

Danby was one of a few Labor politicians who abstained from the vote on last year’s marriage equality bill.

“I abstained from the vote on that bill because I did not think it fair that half the Parliament – the Labor Party – had a free vote, while the other half – the Coalition parties – were ordered by the Leader Mr Abbott to vote against the bill,” he wrote.

“My position is that when the Parliament has a genuine free vote on a marriage equality bill… I will support such a bill – provided of course that I am happy with the details of the proposed legislation.”

He noted that he supported anti-discrimination law for the gay, lesbian, bi, transgender and intersex communities and seconded the gay law reforms of 2009.

But Melbourne Ports for Marriage Equality spokesman Tony Pitman said Danby’s position was absurd.

“Michael Danby’s decision not to vote for marriage equality until Coalition members are given a free vote means he’s effectively taking orders from Tony Abbott,” Pitman said.

“Melbourne Ports voters should be very angry that their local MP is showing no leadership on this issue and is again side-stepping it.”

“Quite simply, he’s not representing the views of the vast majority of his electorate.”

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said Danby was playing politics with an issue about people’s lives.

“Mr Danby should not be playing political games with an issue that directly affects many families in Melbourne Ports,” Croome said.

“Making his vote conditional on something another party does shows a deep deficit of moral courage and leadership.

“Either he is prepared to vote for marriage equality when it is next proposed or he is not.”

Liberal candidate for Melbourne Ports Kevin Ekendahl is one of a few Coalition candidates who supports marriage equality and a conscience vote on the issue.

Danby’s office has ignored repeated requests for comment from the Star Observer since last December.

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