Australia Same-Sex Marriage Fight Heats Up

Australia’s fight over same-sex marriage rights is heating up and Prime Minister Tony Abbott has decided to throw the ball into the court of public opinion by holding a referendum or a plebiscite on the issue after the next election.

Critics were less than impressed, including Sydney Liberal councilor Christine Forster, who also happens to be the Prime Minister’s lesbian sister, as reported in The Australian.

“This should have been a decision that was kept in the parliament and a conscience vote would have meant a decision that was made in the parliament as opposed to made by parties.”

She stated that she would back a plebiscite if that is what it took to get the matter resolved, but wants it done at the time of the next election, not after it. Ms. Forster has been quite vocal on twitter about her support for same-sex marriage and her disappointment with how the issue is being dealt with, while others are watching the family feud simmer.

In the same article, Tony Abbott explains why he pushed for a costly public vote as opposed to having the same-sex marriage issue dealt with by parliament.

“This is an issue which is so personal, about which people feel so deeply, so strongly, in many cases, why not let the people, not the parliament, decide this? That’s the democratic and the fair thing to do. Do not underestimate the magnitude of this as a cultural shift; never before in this country or anywhere until very recently has this been regarded as an appropriate cultural norm.”

After a five-and-a-half hour meeting of the coalition government, made up of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia, tensions and divisions were highlighted when it comes to same-sex marriage. The meeting was set up following question period by Tony Abbott to discuss how to proceed with the issue, according to Stuff.

Many were left unsatisfied with the results of the meeting, including two prominent members of the coalition from the Liberal Party – the deputy leader and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. They were upset that the idea of holding a public vote on same-sex marriage had not gone to Cabinet or to a leadership group.

According to the Financial Review, the Australian Christian Lobby, a conservative Christian organization that mirrors the Christian Right in the US appears to be leading the fight against same-sex marriage in the country, is happy about the idea of bringing the vote to the people, feeling it will help to drive a nail in the coffin of same-sex marriage recognition in the country. This despite the fact that Galaxy Research Polling, as highlighted on the Australian Marriage Equality website, shows that 64 percent of Australians support same-sex marriage and of Christians polled, 53 percent were in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage rights.

[Photo by Bakhti Creative/Pixabay]