Same-sex marriage referendum motion fails as Senator seeks public vote

A MOTION calling for a referendum on same-sex marriage put forward by Ballarat-based Senator John Madigan has been rejected.

The Senate yesterday voted to knock back the motion, which called for a referendum on marriage laws, particularly on whether they should they be a Commonwealth-only decision and whether a union should be only between a man and a woman.

Victorian Senator Madigan had asked for the motion backing a referendum be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by next March 25.

Senator Madigan said any decision on something as vital to society’s structure as marriage should be made by the people, not the parliamentarians.

“It is not up to a state or territory to change the definition of marriage so fundamentally,” Senator Madigan said.

“It is also not up to a state or territory to interfere in federal legislation.”

The ACT allowed same-sex marriages from Saturday but a High Court ruling on its controversial Marriage Equality Bill is due on Thursday.

“Marriage has always been between a man and a woman. Anything that will change such a fundamental cornerstone of society needs to be treated with extreme caution.

“Those supporting the recognition of same sex marriage tell me they have community support. Let’s put it to a vote of the people. There is nothing more democratic than that.

“It’s easy to bludgeon 226 members of parliament, it is harder to bludgeon the electors.”

If the motion had been passed, Senator Madigan also wanted the committee to look at what question should be put to the electors, any effect of the alteration of the parliament’s powers under section 51 (xxi) of the constitution, the level of state and territory support and the potential ramifications for states and territories if such an amendment was made.

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