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Australia’s PM Turnbull says a vote on same-sex marriage could come this year – Business Insider


A woman holds a rainbow flag at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore's annual gay pride rally, at a park in Singapore July 1, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside
A
woman holds a rainbow flag at the Pink Dot
rally.

Thomson
Reuters


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister said
Tuesday that Parliament could legalize gay marriage this year if
the nation’s voters endorse it in a rare nonbinding poll in
November.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected the public would
support marriage equality in the so-called plebiscite, and that
he would personally campaign for a ‘yes’ vote. It would be only
the fourth time in Australian history, and first time in 43
years, that the government puts a legally nonbinding question to
the electorate.

“I have other calls on my time as prime minister, but I will
certainly support a ‘yes’ vote,” Turnbull told reporters.

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 in November blocked the plebiscite,
which would cost 170 million Australian dollars ($135 million)
and promote a divisive public debate.

The Liberal Party held a crisis meeting late Monday to resolve
infighting and rejected a push to allow lawmakers to decide the
issue now.

The government on Tuesday endorsed the party decision to ask the
Senate this week to reconsider allowing the plebiscite, which
would be held Nov. 25. Voting would be compulsory and failure to
vote would be punishable by a fine, though a voluntary vote would
be held if the Senate again rejects the measure.

If most Australians want gay marriage, the Parliament would vote
on legislation before the last two-week session of Parliament of
the year ends on Dec. 7.

“Strong leaders carry out their promises, weak leaders break
them,” Turnbull told reporters.

Gay-rights advocates say enough lawmakers already back marriage
equality to make same-sex marriage legal in Australia now. For
the first time in Australian history, both the prime minister and
opposition leader back the reform.

Rights advocates see the plebiscite as both a delaying tactic
forced by a hard right-wing minority and a strategy to undermine
political support.


Malcolm Turnbull
Australian Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull.

AP Photo/Joseph
Nair


Opponents of the plebiscite argue that the government-funded
advertising campaigns for the cases for and against would give
authority to bigoted and homophobic arguments. Supporters say it
would give ordinary people a voice in a debate dominated by
activists.

If the Senate again blocks the plebiscite, the government intends
to hold a voluntary postal plebiscite by Nov. 15. Voters would
mail in their opinions instead of using ballot boxes at a cost of
up to AU$122 million ($97 million). Responses would be voluntary
and therefore less indicative of public opinion.

Opponents argue that the postal plebiscite would also need Senate
approval, and have threatened a court challenge if it proceeds.
Turnbull said he is confident that the postal option did not need
Senate endorsement.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the government’s deputy Senate
leader and an opponent of same-sex marriage, said some type of
plebiscite is essential if Parliament is to decide the marriage
equality question.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten dismissed a plebiscite as “a
colossal waste of money and time.”

“Yet again the hopes of people who want to be able to marry the
person they love have been dashed by a weak prime minister and
the right wing of the Liberal Party,” Shorten said.


U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ahead of an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, aboard the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, U.S. May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S.
President Trump meets with Australia’s PM Turnbull ahead of event
commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Coral
Sea.

Thomson
Reuters


“We should just get on and have a vote on marriage equality
straight away in the Parliament,” he added.

Lyle Shelton, managing director of the Australian Christian
Lobby, said his advocacy group had collected 55,000 signatures on
a petition demanding a plebiscite.

Sheldon handed the petition to Sen. Cory Bernardi, leader of the
minor Australian Conservatives party, to present to the Senate.
Bernardi has said he would vote against gay marriage regardless
of what the plebiscite found.

Mark Moody-Basedow and his wife, Vicki, celebrated the new
plebiscite plan and their second wedding anniversary by posing
for photos outside Parliament House in what they described as the
medieval-style outfits that they wore on their wedding day.

Vicki Moody-Basedow designed the couple’s white costumes,
embroidered with “righteousness,” ”holiness” and “Jesus.” She
said they believed in “traditional marriage,” but added that the
majority view should prevail in Australia.

“It’s the right of every Australian citizen to be able to say
what they think about this topic, so I think the plebiscite is a
great idea,” she said.

Source Article from http://www.businessinsider.com/australian-leader-says-gay-marriage-could-be-law-this-year-2017-8
Australia’s PM Turnbull says a vote on same-sex marriage could come this year – Business Insider
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