In proposing to hold a national vote on changing the definition of marriage, the Turnbull government is embarking on a course of action rarely used by the Commonwealth.
Changing the definition of marriage is entirely within the power of Parliament to do. The vote will not decide the definition of marriage as Parliament would still have to legislate if the nation votes yes.
The parliament can also ignore the result of the vote. A yes vote could be followed by the parliament not legislating, and the Parliament could later change the definition of marriage even if the public votes no.
But while votes on policy issues are rare at the Commonwealth level, they have been used more frequently at state level.
More Australians now support a vote by politicians in parliament to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage than the Coalition’s election promise to hold a national plebiscite next February, according to a special Newspoll.
The surprise result in the poll, taken exclusively for The Australian, reveals 48 per cent favour a vote in the parliament while only 39 per cent back the plebiscite, with a further 13 per cent undecided.
Support for the plebiscite has significantly declined since earlier this year when polls showed 70 per cent of voters were in favour of the “people’s vote”.
It comes as Bill Shorten continues to demand the government abandon its election pledge to hold the plebiscite, which he yesterday called a $200 million “sick joke”, while Malcolm Turnbull accuses the Labor leader of being the only obstacle to the law being changed.
The Newspoll survey of 1662 people taken from last Thursday to Sunday also reveals Coalition voters are divided on the issue, with 47 per cent favouring the plebiscite and 44 per cent supporting the push for politicians to decide.
Just one electorate in the country has a majority of voters opposed to same-sex marriage, according to new research that suggests MPs and public debate significantly trail voters in backing change.
The University of Melbourne-led study found opposition to changing the Marriage Act ranges from 40 to just over 50 per cent in a handful of rural Queensland and northern NSW seats to less than 10 per cent in inner-city electorates in Sydney and Melbourne.
When (not if) the legislation to enable a plebiscite on same-sex marriage is defeated in the Senate, the debate inevitably will shift to whether there will be a parliamentary conscience vote this term.
Malcolm Turnbull will be wedged between his personal preference and the Liberal Party’s Right flank. Between small-L liberal voters and capital-C Conservatives. Even between Liberals and Nationals.
It will be an internally divisive issue for the government. Bill Shorten knows this, which is why I am cynical when he claims his 180-degree turnaround on a plebiscite isn’t partially driven by politics. It was only three years ago that the Opposition Leader was an advocate for a plebiscite.
And let’s not forget, when the Senate does vote down the plebiscite option, lining up to do so will be a Greens party whose leader was pushing for a plebiscite to be put to the people at the same time as the election, as was Nick Xenophon.
Campaigners against same-sex marriage are using the image of the late anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela, and pushing the false claim that marriage equality will trigger the "compulsory" adoption of the Safe Schools program in all Australian schools.
Recent research, conducted by Eric Schrimshaw at the University of Columbia, revealed something major about bisexual men who don’t come out as bisexual to their female partners, family members, and friends. They don’t disclose their sexuality because they’re unsure of their identity; bisexual men aren’t “confused” as stereotypes suggest.
On the contrary, closeted bisexual men are aware they’re bisexual, and want to continue having sexual and emotional relationships with both men and women, but fear stigmatization and ostracization from their communities.
Professional skateboarder Brian Anderson made history on Tuesday by becoming the first openly gay athlete to compete in his sport at the mainstream level. The 40-year-old opened up about his sexuality during a video interview with Vice magazine.
Both Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull are hypocrites in their stands. Shorten, who talks about how destructive a plebiscite would be, was willing to countenance one several years ago but now can find only reasons against it. Turnbull, who extols the virtues of a plebiscite, condemned the idea when it emerged under Tony Abbott and then embraced it for his own expedient reasons.
This issue has brought out the absolute worst on both sides of politics. A change that is overdue, dealt with already by comparable countries, and not really that hard, is proving beyond politicians whose only skill on this issue has become playing the blame game.
It is hard to recall a bigger failure in recent history from Australia's political class than the debacle over legalising same-sex marriage.
The Coalition's implosion over the carbon pollution reduction scheme in 2009, combined with the Greens' insistence on the perfect being preferable to the good, comes close.
The same sex marriage divide is bigger than ever after Attorney General George Brandis invited Labor's Mark Dreyfus to try reach a plebiscite compromise.
So, too, does the Parliament's failure to allow Julia Gillard's "Malaysian Solution" in 2012 - a decision even Tony Abbott recently admitted was a mistake.
The first failure in the same-sex marriage shemozzle belongs to Abbott; rather than letting MPs do their job and vote on legislation, the former prime minister - egged on by the conservative wing of his party - proposed an expensive plebiscite to resolve the matter.
The second failure was Malcolm Turnbull's; rather than junking the plebiscite proposal - one he argued against while communications minister - Turnbull acquiesced to the demands of party conservatives and retained it as part of the deal struck to install him as Prime Minister.
But the third failure, now unfolding, belongs to Bill Shorten and members of the same-sex marriage lobby like Rodney Croome who used to support a plebiscite but now oppose it.
Same-sex couples could be left waiting until the 2020s to get married if Labor blocks the plebiscite proposed for February next year, Attorney-General George Brandis says.
The same sex marriage divide is bigger than ever after Attorney General George Brandis invited Labor's Mark Dreyfus to try reach a plebiscite compromise. Courtesy ABC news 24.
In a blunt warning to the federal opposition, which is all but certain to oppose the national vote, Senator Brandis suggested the political will to change the law could dissipate if the plebiscite is not held in this term of parliament and same-sex couples could be forced to wait well beyond the next election, due in 2019.
That could mean the law change was pushed back until the next decade.
A sociologist at the University of Cincinnati has spoken about the results of study into gay men and body language at work.
Travis Dean Speice wanted to find out if gay men modify their body language or clothing in the workplace to avoid being seen as ‘too gay’. He interviewed 30 men – primarily based in the Midwest – to talk about notions of masculinity, gayness and their job roles.
‘Although there is no hard, fast rule for general masculinity, there are lots of anxieties related to identity management and self presentation for gay men in many professional settings,’ he said in a press statement about the findings.
A man came up to me as I stood at Brisbane's Pride Fair Day on the weekend after Australian Marriage forum. "I just can't believe it," he said to me. "We've come so far," his words seemed particularly apt.
At Fair Day, more than 2000 people gathered in the heart of Fortitude Valley. Joyful straight supporters, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community members stood alongside speakers from all levels of Australian government and paid tribute to the resilience and strength of the LGBTI community. These qualities have been amply demonstrated in calls for marriage equality.
Twenty years ago, revolutionary new drugs transformed HIV/AIDS, bringing people back from the brink of death. But what happens when you plan to die only to recover? Three people, whose stories span the global epidemic, told BuzzFeed News what it means to have a second chance at life.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's promise of a "civil" debate over same-sex marriage is unravelling, with the group behind an anti-equality smear sheet distributed in suburban Sydney revealed as members of the Liberal Party.
The group "Children's Future", which has firm links to the secretive Catholic religious society Opus Dei, has made the false claim in leaflets that legalising same sex marriage would trigger the controversial Safe Schools program becoming "compulsory" in all Australian schools, even if parents objected.
Legislation to recognise same-sex and de facto relationships is to be introduced into South Australia’s parliament after an outcry when the marriage of a British man who died in the state was not recorded on his death certificate.
Parliamentarians should always be mindful that their words have a special influence on the tone of the debate of the country.
Pauline Hanson’s second-round first speech to the Senate dominated headlines. There are certainly sections of her speech that legitimately raised eyebrows.
We should believe in free speech. But we also should believe people carry a responsibility on how they exercise it: the bigger the platform, the greater the responsibility. This is why aspects of Bill Shorten’s speech introducing amendments to the Marriage Act should be so heavily scrutinised.
Many aspects of the Opposition Leader’s speech resonated. He talked of responsibility and relationships of mutual commitment and respect. He even quoted Edmund Burke favourably.
Sadly, he didn’t end there. Towards the end, Shorten said: “Let me be as blunt as possible. A no campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers, and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many.”
Now let me be blunt, Mr Shorten. While such lines may sound good in a political pointscoring war, it demonstrates a failure to understand the issue and the responsibility he carries with his office. Suicide is not a political plaything. It’s serious.
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