“AN issue whose time has come” was how Labor MP Stephen Jones yesterday described the need to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia. Introducing a private members’ bill calling for marriage equality into the Federal Parliament yesterday, Mr Jones said he believed God made all humans different but equal. His bill came on the same day as another introduced by Independent Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt, however both pieces of legislation are expected to be defeated in coming months despite Labor MPs and Coalition backbenchers being granted a conscience vote. Ballarat MP Catherine King said in December she was likely to vote in favour of same-sex marriage, while a spokesperson for Liberal Senator Michael Ronaldson confirmed he planned to vote against the reforms. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will require all Coalition frontbenchers to vote against the reforms, binding Senator Ronaldson who is Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.Ms King, a Parliamentary Secretary in the Gillard government, had previously said her support for the bill would depend on its wording. Also yesterday, a new poll showed that 62 per cent of Australians supported same-sex marriage, including 81 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds and 51 per cent of 50 to 64 year olds. Ballarat Greens spokesperson Belinda Coates said she felt optimistic about the chance of change. “Last year only the Greens voted in support of a Marriage Equality Bill. “I am hopeful that there will be increased support to pass a bill later this year to legalise same-sex marriage to reflect public opinion.”Ms Coates said local MPs should acknowledge that the majority of the community were in favour of equal marriage rights. “We know that love doesn’t discriminate, and on Valentine’s Day many couples will be heartened to know that the Greens are continuing to push for equal marriage rights.”
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