Turn­bull signs Coali­tion state­ment urg­ing mar­riage equal­ity yes vote

The Guardian Australia - - News - Paul Karp

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.

Pho­to­graph: Paul Miller/AAP

Mal­colm Turn­bull speaks at the NSW Lib­er­als and Na­tion­als For Yes same-sex mar­riage cam­paign launch on Sun­day.

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