Update: 4.00pm: A SKY News poll of 39 Labor backbenchers found that 22 supported marriage equality, seven were opposed, one was undecided while nine refused to answer.
Update: 2.30pm: News Ltd papers are reporting that the Government will support the Bandt marriage equality motion as amended by Labor’s Stephen Jones.
The Coalition will not support the motion but Coalition MPs may more freely vote against the party line than ALP members.
Although Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie has already made public his intention to vote for the motion and his support for same-sex marriage the vote may act as a litmus test for the two rural independents who supported Labor in forming government, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.
Neither man has made his position on formal legal recognition for same-sex couples public in the past.
8am: Debate is expected to resume today on Melbourne MP Adam Bandt’s push to get federal politicians to talk to their constituents about gay marriage.
Debate lasted about an hour last night as a new survey showed more than 50 percent of Australian support marriage equality.
The motion tabled by Adam Bandt calls on “all parliamentarians, consistent with their duties as representatives, to gauge their constituents’ views on ways to achieve equal treatment for same-sex couples, including marriage”.
News Ltd reports this morning today’s Essential Report by polling firm EMC showed 53 percent of Australians in favour of gay marriage and a further 11 percent undecided. Only 36 percent thought the law that states marriage is only between a man and a woman should be changed.
Bandt called for the parliament to recognise community attitudes towards non-heterosexual relationships was changing.
“It is the power of love that has brought us to this moment in the debate over marriage equality,” he said.
“And it is the power of love that will force this parliament and this country to face the reality of what marriage and love means in the 21st century.”
He said all politicians should seek out the attitude of their constituents and also note the growing number of countries granting marriage equality.
Wentworth MP Malcolm Turnbull – whose electorate has the highest number of gay and lesbian constituents in the country – told the parliament he still believed marriage was between a man and a woman.
Liberal MP Bruce Billson put forward civil unions as an answer to the demand for marriage equality, but his Liberal colleague, Terese Gambaro highlighted the problems faced by partners who have entered a civil unions overseas.
Australia’s marriage equality advocates have welcomed the debate.
Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Tim Wright, who was in parliament for the debate, said support for reform always increases when the issue is discussed.
“We welcome support from MPs in both major parties, including Liberal Warren Entsch, and Labor’s Sharon Grierson,” he said.
“There are many more MPs who personally support reform and who will gradually feel more confident to speak out as the issue is increasingly debated.”
A vote on the motion is expected on Thursday. Write said the Labor Government and key independents were expected to support the motion.