Turnbull signs Coalition statement urging marriage equality yes vote
Malcolm Turnbull has joined 23 Coalition parliamentarians urging Australians to vote yes in the samesex marriage postal survey, and highlighting their support for equality, freedom and individual rights.
The statement, released on Thursday, is signed by at least 24 Liberal and National MPs and senators including cabinet ministers Simon Birmingham, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis, Kelly O’Dwyer, Darren Chester, Greg Hunt, Josh Frydenberg, Marise Payne, Scott Ryan, Nigel Scullion and Arthur Sinodinos.
Turnbull has publicly voiced his personal support for same-sex marriage on many occasions, including while launching the Liberals and Nationals For Yes campaign on Sunday.
But the joint statement goes further by saying not only that the parliamentarians will be voting yes but also encouraging other Australians to do the same.
“We do so because we respect and believe in the equality of the loving relationships enjoyed by thousands of Australian same-sex couples,” it said. “We do so because we believe in individual rights and freedoms.”
The statement also says the parliamentarians have “an equal commitment to freedom of religion and the rights of churches, ministers of religion and religious institutions to act according to their faith and doctrines”.
The Coalition has been engaged in infighting over religious freedom, with moderates including Brandis, Pyne and Birmingham arguing the survey concerns marriage only, while conservatives including Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Zed Seselja and Matthew Canavan argue religious freedom is at stake.
The joint statement says that marriage “is an important social institution that promotes stable long-term relationships of mutual commitment”.
“Extending this commitment to same-sex couples will promote greater social, emotional and economic stability, which can only strengthen our nation.”
“We encourage our fellow Australians to join us in voting yes in the postal survey, which we hope will deliver a positive endorsement of love, respect, freedom and equality before the law.”
On Wednesday evening Shorten and the deputy Labor leader, Tanya Plibersek, released a video messaging urging Australians to vote in the postal survey:
When the postal survey was called on 8 August, Turnbull said he would “certainly support a yes vote” but noted he had “many other calls on my time as prime minister”.
Since then Turnbull has explained his support for marriage equality in multiple forums, including in several FM radio appearances.
After the high court upheld the postal survey Turnbull said every adult Australian would be able to have their say on the issue of samesex marriage.
“Lucy [Turnbull] and I will be voting yes and I will be encouraging others to vote yes, but … above all, I encourage every Australian to have their say because unlike the leader of the opposition I respect every Australian’s view on this matter,” he said.
When Shorten proposed a joint letter with the prime minister to all Australians recommending a yes vote in the survey, Turnbull ques-
tioned whether the exercise would “actually increase the case for the yes vote”.
“The leader of the opposition can make his case and I’ll make mine,” he said.
In September 2016 Turnbull said that, however Australians vote, whether yes or no, it “will be the right answer, because it’s theirs”.
The joint statement is also signed by the group of five moderate rebels who brought on a Coalition party room debate by calling for a free vote. Chester is the only Nationals member who has signed.
The current list of signatories is: Julia Banks, Simon Birmingham, George Brandis, Darren Chester, Chris Crewther, Warren Entsch, Trevor Evans, Jason Falinski, Paul Fletcher, Josh Frydenberg, Jane Hume, Greg Hunt, Kelly O’Dwyer, James Patterson, Marise Payne, Christopher Pyne, Scott Ryan, Nigel Scullion, Arthur Sinodinos, Dean Smith, Malcolm Turnbull, Tim Wilson, Jason Wood and Trent Zimmerman.
Malcolm Turnbull speaks at the NSW Liberals and Nationals For Yes same-sex marriage campaign launch on Sunday.