GAY WEDDINGS DEBATE 9 SEPARATION
Marriage has plenty of options
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.