Rebel lawmakers reignite same-sex marriage debate in Australia

For nine months same-sex marriage in Australia has remained in limbo, after a government proposal to hold a national vote, or plebiscite, on the topic was blocked in Parliament in October 2016.

Australia is one of only a few countries in the English-speaking world where same-sex marriage isn’t legal.

Instead, the rebels wanted a simple parliamentary vote. That remains the policy of the opposition Labor party, which says it would resolve the issue quickly.

Rebel Liberal MP Dean Smith drafted a bill which would make same-sex marriage legal in Australia, but allow celebrants to refuse to marry whoever they wished.

The government would not introduce this bill under their current policy, but Smith can introduce it on his own as a private member’s bill. If the bill was to then reach the floor of Parliament, the five Liberal politicians have warned they could join the opposition to vote in favor of it.

But speaking to reporters after the meeting, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the plebiscite would remain policy and legislation could be reintroduced into the senate as early as this week.

Despite broad support for same-sex marriage among Australians, successive governments have failed to pass legislation due to opposition from conservative politicians.

A consistent majority of Australians have told pollsters they support same-sex marriage. In July, 61% of respondents told national pollsters Essential they supported marriage between couples of the same gender.

The ruling Liberal Party has said since 2015 it wants to let the Australian people choose in a national vote, while the opposition Labor Party wants it be directly legislated by Parliament, saying a plebiscite is unnecessary, too costly and traumatic for the LGBT community.

Despite the Australian government’s plans to attempt to pass the plebiscite legislation, there’s no indication it has any more support than when it failed in October 2016.

“Labor, Green (and) some of the independent senators, as well, have given…

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