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Australia Prepares to Vote on Same-Sex Marriage
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same sex marriage Australia

Summary: Australia will hold a postal vote on legalizing same-sex marriage if support for a national ballot can be won.

The land down under is trying to find a way to tackle same-sex marriage. Australia plans on holding a non-compulsory postal vote if they cannot find a way of winning political support for a national ballot for a vote on legalizing same-sex marriage.

  
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A 2016 Gallup opinion poll estimates that 61 percent of Australians support same-sex marriage. With a closely divided split, the issue has split the government and Turnbull’s approval with voters. The upper house Senate rejected a government proposal on the issue, stating a free vote in Parliament was the best way of dealing with the matter.

A postal vote would allow Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to gain the support of liberals and conservatives in the center-right coalition. This is important based on the one-vote majority he has in the lower house of parliament.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann stated that the government is trying to introduce the legislation again but this time with a contingency plan that will match any rejection from the upper house where the government does not have a majority. He said, “Our preference is to have a compulsory attendance plebiscite. If that were to fail, the government believes that we have a legal and constitutional way forward that gives the Australian people a say on whether or not the definition of marriage should be changed.”

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Experts explain that a postal vote would need Senate approval as well but would likely be met with a court challenge. Director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre Anna Brown stated, “The legal advice we have is that such a step, conducting a plebiscite, would be invalid. That’s why we’d go straight to the High Court and launch the challenge.”

The postal vote would cost the country $122 million and would be conducted by the Bureau of Statistics instead of the Electoral Commission. Voters could see the ballot as soon as September 12 and would have until November 7 to return their ballot.



Whichever plebiscite happens, Parliament has two weeks to sit on the Marriage Act vote before potentially legalizing it. The government’s ruling party will pull out all the stops to get the vote tossed.

Turnbull is insistent that he will let the voters have a say, “Strong leaders carry out their promises, weak leaders break them.” He added, “I’m a strong leader. I made that promise again and again…you heard me say again and again that every Australian will have a say on this issue.”

Liberal Sen. Dean Smith drafted the bill to legalize gay marriage. He is a gay man who opposed legalizing gay marriage when he was appointed to the Senate in 2012 but he has changed views now. He wants lawmakers to be able to have a free vote so they vote based on their conscience and not on party policy. Smith said to reporters, “It’s time for the party to put the matter to rest once and for all.”

Do you think Australia will end up spending the money for the postal vote because lawmakers are unwilling to do what is best for the people? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about the legalization of gay marriage, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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