Marriage equality advocates defend plebiscite push

Marriage equality advocates defend plebiscite push
Image: Rodney Croome (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

MARRIAGE equality advocates have backed a push for a plebiscite on the matter despite saying as little as two days ago that a public vote could delay reform and be socially divisive.

Meanwhile, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, who is against marriage equality, has flagged the possibility of a legally binding referendum rather than a plebiscite.

[showads ad=MREC]On Tuesday, the Coalition party room voted to maintain its position that frontbench MPs and senators must vote against marriage equality.

Following the decision, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said any future decision on marriage equality “should happen through a people’s vote rather than simply through a Parliament’s vote”.

Just hours earlier, Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national director Rodney Croome warned that even if a plebiscite showed the public was in favour of marriage equality, Parliament would not be bound by the result.

“We urge Coalition members not to opt for a plebiscite because it will delay the reform, be socially divisive and leave taxpayers with a hefty bill,” he said.

Campaigners have now said they back a plebiscite as the next best option following the party room defeat.

Talking to the Star Observer last night at an AME fundraiser at NSW Parliament, deputy campaign director Ivan Hinton-Teoh said: “We’re not supportive of a plebiscite in general, we don’t believe it’s necessary.”

“It’s an elaborate pub quiz, a way of asking every single member of Australia what they think when you only have to pay for a scientific poll to determine a similar result,” he added.

However, Hinton-Teoh said a vote could neutralise arguments that marriage equality is not widely supported: “We’re not afraid of a plebiscite and we know the community is behind [marriage equality].”

The timing of a public poll was critical, though.

“A plebiscite the way in which the government is proposing could be a delaying tactic,” he said.

“Our support for a plebiscite is on the basis it is at the next election which doesn’t delay it.”

So far three Liberal backbenchers, WA Senator Dean Smith and Queensland MPs Wyatt Roy and Teresa Gambaro, have declared would cross the floor in defiance of party orders.

Other senior Liberal figures, such as Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, have publicly criticised the notion of a plebiscite.

Hinton-Teoh said a groundswell within the Coalition was forming but the likelihood of marriage equality passing in this term was low.

Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich told the Star Observer that a swathe of Coalition MPs, including Turnbull and Kelly O’Dwyer whose seats cover several LGBTI-centric areas of Sydney and Melbourne, were now in a “very difficult position” with their constituents.

Meanwhile, the Greens have joined forces with cross bench senators Ricky Muir, David Leyonhjelm, Nick Xenophon, Jacqie Lambie and Glenn Lazurus to announce a bill that ensures “a fair question” on marriage equality is put at the 2016 Federal Election.

“Tony Abbott is not proposing a plebiscite to give people a choice – he’s doing it to delay and ultimately attempt to defeat marriage equality,” Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale said.

“We cannot trust Tony Abbott not to delay further, propose an unfair question, or turn it into an unnecessary referendum with little chance of passing.

“But if a plebiscite is the only option on the table, it must happen at this election and the parliament must choose the question.”

Yesterday, Scott Morrison told ABC’s 7.30 a referendum was an option: “I would prefer the Australian people decide this: not me, not [the High Court], but the Australian people.”

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus dismissed Morrison’s view and, according to ABC News, said the minister was “talking nonsense.”

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Paula Gerber, of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University, said a referendum was unnecessary.

“A referendum is only required when we want to amend the constitution, and unlike Ireland, we can change the law to permit same-sex couples to marry without touching our constitution,” she said.

“Even a successful referendum or plebiscite on this issue would give licence to bigots to step up vitriol against LGBTI persons, likely damaging the mental health of youth in the process.”

At NSW Parliament yesterday, an emotional Croome said the last few days had been “disappointing and frustrating”.

“It’s very hard to understand now members of our parliament can be so thoughtless or so callous,” he said.

Croome added that “we must always hope and believe in change”.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who was at the same event said: “We’re all proud Australians, we all love this country and we will change this law – it’s only a matter of time.”

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18 responses to “Marriage equality advocates defend plebiscite push”

  1. Hear what the community is telling you. Toughen up. Bash back. Get a fucking result please.

    Lesson 1 is, when the fascists look like they have taken a strong step, they are in fact on the back foot. Now, go in for the kill.

    Polatics is a blood sport. Remember that please, and win. Attack and divide, conquer,

  2. No way boys and girls. No plebawhatever. No referendum. Get real. Toughen up. If you are so weak as to be knocked off course by conniving tories, step aside.

    I propose a referendum to remove the rights of Jews to marry! Reasonable? Of course its not! It is completely fucking unreasonable. Now stop being wooses if you want to win this debate. Shape up or ship out you apologists.

  3. LETS BE CRYSTAL CLEAR: We really need an early federal election immediately! No referendums on marriage equality – however yes to referendums on both a Republic and all new federal taxes (e.g. raising the GST to 15%)!

  4. A similar thing happened when the NSWGLRL supported changes to social security legislation without asking for a sunset clause. That oversight cost many elderly gay and lesbian couples dearly, in terms of lost Centrelink entitlements. Here, those who support the concept of marriage equality by plebiscite seem detached from the reality which will in the months leading up to that non-binding vote, be utilised by homophobic politicians, religious leaders and others, to engage in a full frontal attack on gay and lesbian citizens. We know the topic headings already and I will not mention them here, but they are bound to cause immense hurt.

  5. No plebiscite! The Howard Liberal-National Coalition Government already set the precedent when they used a vote of Parliament, not a vote of the people, to change the Marriage Act to specifically exclude same sex couples from marrying.
    Marriage equality should be enshrined by our parliament. The damage and hatred unleashed by a plebiscite would be unimaginable.

    • Can we have a plebiscite on early re-call elections, on corrupt MPs such as helicopter Brogan Bishop and Tony Abbott? [dam auto-correct]

  6. Can we just have a federal election at the end of the year, we do not really need to waste $200 million, on a same-sex marriage referendum now do we? Come on Australia – lift your game (like you did on plain packaging of cigarettes), do your job pollies on all sides and pass the bills in the Australian Parliament!

  7. Can we ban bigoted conservatives under the Marriage Act 1961?

    Marriage Amendment Bill 2015

    1. The law comes into full effect on the date of Assent.

    2. Schedule 1

    Add [after section88EA]: –

    Section 88EB
    “Any member of –
    a) The Australian Christian Lobby;
    b) The Liberal Party;
    c) The National Party
    d) The Christian Democratic or Fred Nile Group party; or
    e) Any individual person who is biased or hateful towards LGBTI individuals or LGBTI groups (including advocating the banning or making same-sex marriage illegal or unrecognisable), is hereby banned from getting married under this Act”.

    Maximum Penalty: 20 years imprisonment.

    Marriage Amendment Bill 2015

    Introduced 14/08/2015 3:50PM
    First Reading

  8. This apartheid will kill some people as the trolls get a platform to hate for the next eight years. They hate on radio, on television, and on Foxtel. In case Australian Marriage Equality did not understand, they should look at the research at beyond blue before signing up for further years of discrimination and a system of apartheid for same-sex couples who want to marry in Oz! No plebiscite when John Howard changed the Marriage Act to exclude same-sex couples, yet when we talk about inclusion, apartheid is introduced where same-sex couples are expected to ask little darlings such as Ivan Millat, and even Cardinal Pell, if they can marry. Advocating a cruel system of apartheid is not AME’s proudest day.

  9. It sounds to me that the Australian Christian Lobby are in charge here! The ACL have there finger in the pie on this referendum or prerequisite – for far too long (in both the Labor and LNP parliamentary boat) for way far too long now!

  10. I think both Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten are a pair of total cunts!
    Vote 1 Greens!
    A proud member of the Greens!
    The Greens will allow marriage equality for all!

    • I agree, both Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten are a pair of total cunts,
      but so are the Greens
      was a long term Green voter
      but look at the proposed changes to the Senate to block small parties
      and how did the Greens start here in Tas ?
      all of them


  11. I think supporting a plebiscite is a huge mistake – it’s playing into Abbott’s game plan of delay and confusion. It will cost millions and lead to a bitter public brawl which will let the conservative rump of the LNP hide behind well-funded bigots and hate mongers. The only viable solution is to abandon working with this Parliament and start a grassroots campaign in every Federal electorate to get either more representative candidates pre-selected or better still, work for the election of an ALP government.
    I fear for the mental health of our young ones and the impact on our elders who have both suffered for so long from this lack of recognition and plain old dignity.

  12. We are still debating this – even when ultra-conservative places such as Texas, Mississippi, and Utah have marriage equality right now! I am embarrassed to be Australian!