Australia gay-marriage bill can’t get vote
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s ruling party on Monday rejected a push to allow lawmakers to decide whether the country should recognize gay marriage, continuing a political stalemate over the divisive change.
The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was narrowly re-elected in July 2016 with a promise to let voters decide whether Australia should recognize same-sex marriage through a popular vote. But the Senate would not allow the so-called plebiscite.
Liberal Sen. Dean Smith, a gay man who previously opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, has drafted a bill to allow gay marriage now and wants his fellow Liberal lawmakers to be allowed to vote on it according to their consciences rather than party policy.
A crisis meeting of Liberal lawmakers decided to try again to persuade the Senate to endorse the plebiscite before Parliament considers voting on legislation. The rejected plebiscite bill will be reintroduced to the Senate this week. Voting on the plebiscite would be compulsory, and failure to vote would be punishable by a fine.
If the Senate again rejected it, the party would propose a voluntary postal plebiscite in which voters mail in their opinions instead of using ballot boxes.