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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Australia.

2016-OCT & NOV:
Stalemate in Parliament continues
after plebiscite is blocked by Labor.

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Part 23

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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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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map of Australia Webmaster's opinion [Bias alert]:

IMHO, the referendum would appear to be an exercise in futility. Right now, the majority of Australian voters, of Representatives, and of Senators all favor marriage equality for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, subject to the same age and genetic closeness restrictions that are in place for opposite-sex marriages.

The results of the referendum can be predictable in advance on the basis of the public opinion polls conducted in the recent past. Because most polling participants who have expressed no opinion typically vote against change in a plebiscite, one could expect a referendum to find 55% to 60% of Australian voters to be in favor of marriage equality.

The end result of a plebiscite would only be a confirmation of the existing public opinion poll data.


  • The hatred that would be released against the LGBT community in the leadup to a referendum by individuals and groups opposed to marriage equality,

  • The very strong possibility of suicides by some vulnerable LGBT youth,

  • The hundreds of millions of dollars that it would cost, and

  • The delay that the referendum would create in implementing equality,

there does not appear to be much justification for a plebiscite merely to firm up polling data.

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2016-OCT-11: Labor Party caucus meets and decides to block the Coalition's proposed plebiscite:

The Labor party held a caucus in Canberra and voted unanimously to oppose the Coalition Government's planned vote to hold a 2017 public plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Earlier, the Greens had also expressed their opposition. 1,2

Ben Westcott, writing for CNN, said that Labor regards:

"... a public vote is unnecessary, too costly, and would trigger a divisive public debate which could traumatize young gay and lesbian Australians.

Instead, Labor, and other opposition parties, want same-sex marriage to be passed by Parliament immediately -- something which government conservatives are dead set against." 1

John Warhurst is a professor at Australian National University's School of Politics. He believes that conservatives look upon a plebescite as the best way to defeat marriage equality in Australia, or at least have same-sex marriage delayed in the country for as long as possible. 1

Lyle Shelton is the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby. He told CNN he was dissapointed at Labor''s decsion. He said:

"The Australian Labor Party, the Greens, and some of the crossbenchers have worked as political elites to deny the people a say on what is the biggest and most radical social change in a generation

He predicted that marriage equality will be stalled for years. 1

Andrew Barr is the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory and is openly gay. He said:

"No other human rights issue is put to a national vote in Australia. In Australia we can declare war, we can send our troops overseas into battle without even consulting our parliament ... and yet for something as straightforward as including everyone in marriage, our current government believes there needs to be a vote of every Australian [adult]." 1

Prime Minister Turnbull continues to reject a free vote in Parliament. He said of the LGBT community and their supporters in Parliament:

"If they want gay couples to get married, vote for the plebiscite. The door is open. The reality is the Labor Party wants to play politics with this issue much more than they want same-sex couples to get married. You're putting politics ahead of the interests of gay couples." 2

Corey Sinclair is the editor of the Star Observer, a gay and lesbian a national magazine. He said:

"The LGBTI community has been quite vocal about its opposition to the plebiscite so this news is music to sore ears. For too long we have been preached to by the heterosexual majority about our rights and it's time for our elected representatives to do what they were elected to do." 2

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2016-NOV-07: Same-sex marriage plebiscite killed by Senate:

To the surprise of very few people, after a debate that lasted over a year, the Senate killed the government's proposed same-sex marriage plebiscite by a vote of 29 in favor, 33 opposed, and one abstention. With a vote by the public now impossible, the fight will probably concentrate on a free-vote in Parliament. This could place serious strain on the Coalition

Alex Greenwich, co-chairperson of Australian Marriage Equality said:

"Now that the plebiscite legislation is dead, we again call marriage equality supporters across all political parties to work together to find a pathway. It’s time our parliamentarians found a fair and dignified pathway that ensures every Australian is treated equally." 3

He recommends that supporters of marriage equality refocus their efforts to promote an amendment of the Marriage Act by a direct vote in Parliament. He said:

"We know that a majority of Australians, indeed a majority of parliamentarians, support this reform. ... We hope that we can all work together to finally get this through our Parliament." 4

Unfortunately, the conservative National Party only joined the ruling Coalition on the condition that Parliament would not alter the marriage act unless a majority of Australian adults favored gay/same-sex marriage in a plebiscite. 5

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This topic is continued 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. Ben Westcott, "Gay marriage in Australia unlikely for years after public vote plan rejected," CNN World, 2016-OCT-11, at:
  2. "Australian gay rights groups welcome same-sex marriage hurdle," BBC News, 2016-OCT-12, at:
  3. "Australia Turns Down National Vote On Same Sex Marriage," Huffington Post, 2016-NOV-07, at:
  4. Francis Keany & Julia Holman, "Same-sex marriage plebiscite bill blocked by Senate," Australian Broadcasting Corp., 2016-NOV-08, at:
  5. Dan Conifer & Stephen Dziedzic, "Same-sex marriage: Turnbull refuses to say if he will allow parliamentary vote after Labor blocks plebiscite," Australian Broadcasting Corp., 2016-OCT-11, at:

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Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-OCT-10
Latest update: 2017-JAN-26
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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