One of Australia’s two Houses of Parliament could pass legislation that would open the way to same-sex couples being able to legally marry in Australia before the week is over.
An Australian Greens party authored bill will be debated and voted on on Thursday if the Australian Labor Party agrees to use its private senators’ time to consider the bill.
Labor and the Greens both support same-sex marriage in their party platforms, though Labor lawmakers have not yet been bound by their party to vote for it if they have a personal objection.
However lawmakers from the ruling Liberal-National Coalition government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have not yet been given a similar ‘conscience’ vote on the issue and their party platform remains opposed to same-sex marriage.
Technically Liberal-National senators who are not members of cabinet could cross the floor to vote in favor of same-sex marriage.
However many of the most prominent supporters in the Australian Government are in cabinet and cannot do so without the approval of Turnbull.
Turnbull personally supports same-sex marriage becoming legal but wants the Australian people to vote on the issue before the Parliament settles the issue.
It is estimated that the cost to the Australian tax payer and Australian economy of holding such a poll could be over half a billion dollars.
The Greens hope that the Prime Minister will be prepared to assert his leadership in the next 48 hours and that he and other moderates within the government will be able to persuade their party room to allow all senators a conscience vote so that the Senate can pass the bill and then send it to the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives must also pass the bill for it to become law.
That would be a greater challenge but advocates believe the numbers are there in the event of Coalition MPs being given a free vote.
‘Over the next 48 hours we hope Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will reconsider his position and finally grant his party a free vote so marriage equality can become a reality,’ Greens LGBTI issues spokesman Senator Robert Simms said earlier today.