Gay Marriage Bill Finds Its Way Before Australian Parliament

The next stop on the world tour for the Gay Marriage debate will be the continental nation of Australia. According to BBC News, government backbencher Warren Entsch has introduced a bill to be debated amongst the country’s Members of Parliament.

Australia’s government has an official stance on gay marriage, and says that marriage should be a partnership between one man and one woman. The country’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has prohibited Australia’s MPs from voting on the issue of gay marriage either way, and has taken the position that the right to gay marriage should be put in the hands of the people in a Plebiscite.

The language of the bill would give any couple of any “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status” to marry. To put the vote in the hands of Australia’s people would be the best for proponents of gay marriage, because if the MPs were to vote upon it, it would likely fail, and according to opinion polls, 60 to 72 percent of the Australian people are for the legalization of gay marriage.

Australia’s ABC News relayed Entsch’s opinion on the possible success of the bill.

“If the vote comes up and I’m asked to vote of course I will support it. There would be no purpose in introducing it into the Parliament if I’m not prepared to stand by what I’ve introduced. I introduce it because I would like to get these stories out there, a little bit of background on this. I don’t introduce it with an expectation that it’s going to be successful.”

The controversy between Abbot and Entsch is the timing of such a vote. Abbott would like a referendum, and Entsch would like the issue of gay marriage settled within 100 days of the next Parliament.

Entsch also gave his opinion on MPs that would possibly run campaigns on the issue of gay marriage either way.

“I think it would be grossly inappropriate for members to say we have established that it’s not for us to make a decision, it’s for the people, and then for them to lead campaigns one way or the other. I will be very strongly critical of any colleagues that go out there publicly and try and lead campaigns one way or the other.”

Australia has a Marriage Act that prohibits gay marriage, that specifies marriage as a union between a man and a woman, that would be defeated by a public vote to legalize gay marriage. Other countries have had similar legislation, such as the Defense of Marriage Act in the United States, which left gay marriage and the right to recognize gay marriages in the hands of the states. DoMA was struck down by the United States Supreme Court, who later recognized marriage equality as a right.

[Images by Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images]