Openly gay Labor senator Penny Wong was one of 26 senators to miss yesterday’s vote on same-sex marriage in Canberra.
With only the Greens in favour, the Marriage Equality (Amendment) Bill was defeated 45 votes to five — a blow to marriage equality activists around the country.
In what pundits say is a telling sign, 26 senators did not turn up to the vote, with both major parties opting not to allow a conscience vote on the issue.
Openly gay WA Labor senator Louise Pratt was also absent from the vote.
The Age reported senior ministers including Wong were tied up in a cabinet meeting.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said low turnout for the vote shows there is “dissent” within the major parties.
“The fact that 26 senators were absent from today’s debate is an indication that there is dissent in the ranks of the major parties, dissent which we believe will only grow,” he said.
Citing a Galaxy poll indicating 60 percent support for same-sex marriage, Greenwich said both major parties are “deaf” to the wishes of mainstream Australia and vowed to make same-sex marriage a hard-fought election issue.
“We will be campaigning in key electorates to ensure voters are fully aware that the leaders of both major parties support discrimination against same-sex partners,” he said.
“Labor cannot claim to have removed discrimination against same-sex partners until it has removed all discrimination. There’s no such thing as half-equal.”
Greenwich said AME rejects relationship registers in place of “the full equality that comes with equality in marriage”.

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