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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Australia

Part 14: 2015-MAY:
Remarks about the Irish referendum
& its impact Australian politics (Cont'd).
Possible SSM vote in Parliament.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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Throughout this web site, "SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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map of Australia2015-MAY-22: Will the Irish referendum impact legislators in Australia? (Cont'd)

Senator David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrat) said:

"I think what's happened in Ireland is going to be good for [the] potential of my bill to get through and get a positive vote. 1

Tony Burke [Labor] had opposed marriage equality but has since reversed his opinion. He issued a statement, saying:

"My stance on this issue has developed considerably since the last time we voted on marriage equality. As this debate drags on in Australia it is becoming harsher and angrier rather than kinder and gentler. We need to get to the next stage of the conversation to explain why those who do not want the change will be unaffected by it. It is a long time since the law of marriage matched the various religious views of marriage. [If marriage equality is attained] the various religious faiths will continue to have their own views and rules around marriage." 1

Whenever marriage equality is considered in a country, some people believe that clergy will be required to marry any couple who has a marriage license. In Australia as in other countries that have legalized same-sex marriage, clergy have the authority to deny marriage to any couple for any reason. This would continue if same-sex marriages became available.

Senator Hanson-Young [Labor] said:

"I would hope that MPs who were perhaps unsure about the impact of this would be looking at the Irish vote and saying: if Catholic Ireland can get on board marriage equality then, of course, so should Australia." 1

Rodney Croome, spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality hopes that the Irish referendum will invigorate the marriage equality debate in Australia. He said that it showed:

"... increasing momentum, increasing support in Parliament, quashing the old myth that Catholics and other people of faith are against marriage equality,

There's almost majority support for marriage equality in our federal parliament and our focus will be on persuading Tony Abbott and other coalition members to allow a free vote so that Australia can move forward in the same way that Ireland has.

Australia is now the only developed, English-speaking country that doesn't allow same-sex couples to marry." 1

He apparently does not have a high regard for the development status of Northern Ireland, which also bans same-sex marriage as of mid-2015. Or perhaps he regards Northern Ireland and Ireland to be a single country.

Billy Cantwell, editor of the Irish Echo -- an Irish-Australian newspaper -- said that the referendum in Ireland will:

"... put heat on all democracies that haven't actually adopted legislation in this area to actually have another look at it; I hope it does. It seems to be mired in politics in Canberra, whereas if it went to a popular vote I have no doubt that it would be carried here." 1,2

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2015-MAY-28: Some expected the Australian Parliament to vote on marriage equality during 2015:

Chris Uhlmann, writing for the Australian Broadcasting Commission predicted:

"Federal Parliament will vote on whether it should change the law to allow same-sex marriage before the end of the year. And, sometime soon, the Liberal Party room will endorse a conscience vote on the matter, liberating its MPs and senators to vote as they please. Labor will keep its free vote and most of its members will now support change.

With all the momentum all rolling one way there could be a vote by August and some Australian same-sex couples might be tying the knot before Christmas. ..."

The most likely successful strategy now is that a bill will be proposed by Government MP, probably Mr Entsch, and co-sponsored by a Labor MP. The Greens, who have long supported gay marriage, are urging all parties to work together to ensure that the vote does not fail this time. The last time Parliament voted on a same sex marriage bill was in 2012. It was trounced 98-42 in the Lower House and 41-26 in the Senate.

It will be very different this time around." 3

His prediction did not materialize.

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2015-MAY-29: Multiple MPs are willing to introduce a marriage equality bill:

Two members of Parliament, Warren Entsch (Liberal) and Graham Perrett (Labor) are expected to form a team with four or five Labor MPs and perhaps MPs from other parties, to develop a bipartisan bill to be introduced later in 2015.

The most important factor that would probably guarantee the passage of the bipartisan marriage equality bill would be if Prime Minister Abbott allows a free conscience vote. If he refuses, then the wishes of the majority of Australian public in favor of marriage equality would probably be denied, at least temporarily. 4

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Gay marriage referendum in Australia dismissed by Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten as Ireland votes for change," Australian Broadcasting Commission, 2015-MAY-24, at:
  2. "Same-sex marriage referendum in Australia would just be a 'big opinion poll'," The Guardian, 2015-MAY-24, at:
  3. Chris Uhlmann, "Analysis: Strategies, motives and agendas behind same-sex marriage vote," ABC News, 2015-MAY-28, at:
  4. James Massola, "Same-sex marriage circuit-breaker emerges as Liberals, Labor MPs propose compromise," Sydney Morning Herald, 2015-MAY-29, at:

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Copyright © 2015 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2015-MAR-24
Latest update: 2016-AUG-05
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