Australian Opposition leader Bill Shorten has become the first leader of a major political party to put forward legislation to allow same-sex marriage in Australia just days after more members of the conservative wing of his party announced they now would vote in favor of marriage equality.
Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party, put his intention in writing earlier today, giving notice to the Parliament that he will table such a bill when the House of Representatives meets on Monday.
‘I give notice that, at the next sitting I will present a bill for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality, and for related purposes,’ a document signed by Shorten and seconded by deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek reads.
A related statement posted to Facebook appeared to be calling out Liberal/National Coalition leader and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for his continued reluctance to allow his MPs to vote with their consciences on the issue.
‘It’s time for our laws to reflect the values of modern Australia and to include everyone as equals,’ Shorten wrote at 6pm this afternoon.
‘All MPs should have a free vote on this matter. Let’s make marriage equality a reality.’
Shorten’s bill has been welcomed by the campaign for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia, Australian Marriage Equality (AME), who hoped it, combined with the pace of events overseas, would force the Liberal party room to finally confront the issue of a conscience vote for its members.
‘We thank Bill Shorten for being the first leader of a major political party to introduce a marriage equality bill,’ AME deputy national director Ivan Hinton-Teoh said.
‘We hope this bill provides the circuit breaker needed for the Coalition party room to deal with the issue and decide on a free vote.’
‘The ball is now firmly in the Prime Minister’s court to allow the many members of the Coalition who support marriage equality to be able to vote for it, and play their part in this historic reform. Now is the time for reform, and an ever increasing majority of Australians want marriage equality delivered urgently.’
The Australian Greens Party and Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm also have bills to legalize same-sex marriage in Australia.
AME have called for supporters of marriage equality to turn out for a snap protest action on Sunday at 2pm in Sydney’s Taylor Square to call on the Coalition to give all its MPs an Senators the ability to vote as they truly feel on the issue rather than being bound by party discipline.
The Facebook event page for the AME protest action is here