The Courier-Mail

GAY WED­DINGS DE­BATE 9 SEP­A­RA­TION

Mar­riage has plenty of op­tions

- DENNIS ATKINS

GET­TING a han­dle on the mar­riage equal­ity de­bate at the mo­ment is like shak­ing hands with a bowl of spaghetti or hug­ging a cloud of smoke.

If it feels like al­most ev­ery op­tion has been cov­ered dur­ing the past two months – since the peo­ple of Ire­land voted in a ref­er­en­dum to le­galise same-sex mar­riage – that’s be­cause it has.

Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott gave the im­pres­sion he’d welcome a Par­lia­men­tary de­bate if change was pro­posed by all sides of pol­i­tics but he didn’t favour a pop­u­lar vote be­cause that wasn’t the way we did things. He re­treated from this when the an­tichange con­ser­va­tives in the Coali­tion fought back, at the same time La­bor pro­moted a free vote for its MPs while propos­ing a bind­ing vote in the fu­ture.

La­bor’s po­si­tion be­came clearer, although less log­i­cal, when they adopted a for­mal po­si­tion to have a free vote un­til the elec­tion af­ter next when they will have to park their pre­vi­ously ex­er­cised con­sciences on mar­riage.

The Lib­er­als push­ing for change put for­ward their Bill only to have Ab­bott spring a party meet­ing to head it off, dur­ing which Trea­surer Joe Hockey sug­gested a pop­u­lar plebiscite af­ter the next elec­tion. Ab­bott also en­dorsed the “dis­po­si­tion” in the party room to have a plebiscite af­ter the elec­tion – a stand which firmed up as the day went on.

The short ver­sion is that any chance of chang­ing the Mar­riage Act be­fore the elec­tion has been killed off by Ab­bott and in the fu­ture, the is­sue might go any way.

 ??  ?? ANGER: PM Tony Ab­bott may have sown seeds of dis­sen­sion when he im­posed his will on a party room vote over same-sex mar­riage.
ANGER: PM Tony Ab­bott may have sown seeds of dis­sen­sion when he im­posed his will on a party room vote over same-sex mar­riage.
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