Questions on true intentions for same-sex marriage

Mia Danko marches for marriage equality in Ballarat last month. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
Mia Danko marches for marriage equality in Ballarat last month. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

EQUAL Love Ballarat’s Kirsten Holden is questioning the Turnbull government’s true intentions on same-sex marriage, an issue she said seemed set up to fail.

The marriage equality activists body has been left appalled after Liberal MPs rejected an internal push for a free vote on the issue, instead attempting to enact a plebiscite on same-sex marriage on November 25.

If the legislation is rejected - as expected - the government will hold a postal vote ballot over eight weeks from September.

“If I’m honest, it feels like the government is just trying to stall something that should be so easy to do,” Ms Holden said.

“...It shows our LGBTIQ community we’re not important to government and out rights, a basic human right, are not as important as straight humans.”

Ms Holden said it had been frustrating to watch the issue play out in Canberra, particularly in the wake of the emergency Liberal Party meeting on Monday.

She said the cost of a plebiscite, estimated about $160 million, was “ridiculous” for a vote that was not legally binding.

A voluntary postal ballot has a price tag of about $122 million and would be run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the body that conducted last year’s Australian Census, rather than the Electoral Commission.

If Australians return a majority "Yes" vote, the government will debate on a bill to legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year, but MPs will not be bound to respect the will of the people.

That means same-sex marriage could be legalised by December 7, the last day Parliament sits this year. But if the majority of Australians vote "No", the government will refuse to allow a vote in Parliament.

Ms Holden said Ballarat’s pride hub was calling on all members of the LGBTIQ community and supporters to meet, email of call their local members of parliament to make clear how they felt on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Equal Love Ballarat hosted a rally and march to lobby for government action. Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley and GetUp! Marriage Equality director Sally Rugg led rally cries for equality. Mr Foley and Ms Rugg said it was important to keep grassroots campaigning strong.

Equal Love state leaders have called for a protest to the proposed plebiscite by staging a mass illegal wedding at State Library of Victoria on August 26.

- with The Age