Marriage EqualityA national Fairfax Nielsen Poll conducted last week reported that while most Australians support same-sex marriage, it will not influence how they vote in the coming election.

The poll canvassed 2545 people around the country between Sunday and Thursday and the results indicated widespread support on the issue of same-sex marriage – 65 per cent of respondents said that they supported the legalisation of marriage between same-sex couples, an improvement of 8 points since December 2011. In comparison, 28 per cent of those polled were in opposition.

Despite its presence in the political limelight, however, the Nielsen poll indicated that when asked of the importance of marriage equality in determining their vote, more than half of the respondents surveyed stated that it was “not important at all”. Comparatively, sixteen per cent said that it was “very important”.

Support was higher among women, where 75 per cent were in favour compared to 55 per cent for men. The poll also found that younger voters supported legalisation in higher numbers than older voters.

During the first leaders’ debate, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated that he would introduce a marriage-equality bill within 100 days if voted back into power. The ALP followed Rudd’s assertion with a social media campaign called “It’s time,” detailing Labour’s record in obtaining rights for LGBTI Australians and drawing on support from pop stars Ricki-Lee, the Veronicas and Savage Garden’s frontman Darren Hayes. In another same-sex marriage campaign, Australian Marriage Equality (AME) has dropped leaflets in hundreds of thousands of letterboxes across Australia announcing their Vote4Love website. On the site, voters can access information on their candidate’s positions, including their position on marriage equality.

Finance Minister Penny Wong stated that “as a nation, we have always progressed towards greater equality, and marriage equality would be another important step in ensuring all Australians are treated equally.”

She went on to discuss the “It’s time” campaign and the possibility of a conscience vote in Parliament.

“For the first time, Australia has a prime minister who supports marriage equality,” Wong said.

“Hopefully, we will see Tony Abbott agree to give his Liberal colleagues a conscience vote on this most personal of issues, because that is the only way Australia will finally achieve marriage equality.”

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