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Sydney Morning Herald calls on PM Abbott to allow free marriage vote

The editors of the Sydney Morning Herald have called on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his MPs to vote with their consciences on same-sex marriagefollowing a senior Government minister saying he believes his party room should revisit the issue
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Photo by Liberal Party of Australia

Australia’s most read left leaning newspaper has called on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his MPs to vote with their personal views on same-sex marriage, rather than as a block, just days after Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wanted his party room to revisit the issue.

In a 5 November editorial titled, ‘Importance of gay marriage debate now plain for all to see,’ the editors wrote about how the recently published coming out story of one of its sports writers had crystallized the issue for them.

‘The Herald believes same-sex marriage must come, so as to afford Australian homosexuals in love the same compassion, legal status and social acceptance as enjoyed by heterosexuals,’ the editors wrote.

‘Such recognition will not preclude objectors from continuing to practice their marriage traditions, nor encroach on core family values. Good parenting is blind to sexuality. So are love, caring, empathy, respect and community cohesion.’

The newspaper called on Abbott to stop delaying the inevitable.

‘He must know the only way to sort this out is to allow Federal Parliament to deal with it in an open and informed way,’ the editors wrote

‘The Coalition so far has denied its MPs a conscience vote. Abbott must now apply his moral weight to his party room so it can approve a conscience vote for every MP.

'He should also allocate time for a private member's bill to go before Parliament.'

The newspaper wrote that allowing a bill to go forward when he was personally opposed on the issue would be reassuring for many Australians about his leadership.

‘Such strong leadership would not require Abbott to abandon his personal preference for retaining marriage as male-female,’ the newspaper wrote.

‘It would simply reassure Australians that Abbott will not allow extremists in his cheer-squad to deny the nation a chance to express its opinion through its elected representatives.’

The newspaper did not think a bill would pass in the current parliament but wrote that a conscience vote for MPs on both sides of politics would be the beginning of the way forward.

Herald sports writer Andrew Webster had written about how he had considered suicide for many years before coming out and that for him the issue came down to ‘whether you think I am good enough to be married to the person I love.'

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