More than 60 percent of Australian MPs and mayors believe the government should get out of the way and stop preventing gay people from getting married, a new survey has found.

The survey asked 150 mayors, MPs and councillors across Australia “Should the government stop gay people from getting married?”. Only one in four decision-makers said the government should intervene and stop gay marriage.

Commissioned by Redstick Strategic Communications, the survey was released on April 1, just a day before the deadline for submissions to the Senate inquiry into same-sex marriage.

Redstick director Tony White told the Star Observer the survey showed many decision-makers wanted government to get out of the way on gay marriage.

“I think the debate has often been conducted in the context of the government conferring rights, or giving rights to a particular group in society rather than the government getting out of the way of people to exercise their rights,” White said.

“The question we asked was ‘Should the government prevent you from getting married if you’re gay?’ and the overwhelming majority responded and said the government should get out of your way and let you exercise your rights.

“Only a quarter of people in that context, only a quarter of MPs and mayors said the government should restrict you from gay marriage.”

Australian Marriage Equality convenor Alex Greenwich said the survey was representative of the majority of Australians who wanted reform. He said the argument would appeal to Coalition supporters, noting that conservatives valued the exclusion of government from home life.

“Indeed, that’s why around the world, so many conservative supporters of marriage equality are coming out,” he said.

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