Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has taken a temperature of the mood post Ireland’s historic yes vote in favour of gay marriage and issued a private member’s bill pushing for Australia to follow suit and allow gay marriage. The bill was co-sponsored by Shorten’s deputy, Tanya Plibersek and will be addressed next week.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed the idea of an Australian referendum on gay marriage, telling reporters,
“Referendums are held in this country where there’s a proposal to change the constitution,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone is suggesting the constitution needs to be changed in this respect.”
Shorten’s move will force Tony Abbott to address the question of gay marriage in Australia, and as The Sydney Morning Herald reports, points to growing support for gay marriage not just among pro-reform MPs but in parliament – which could lead to success in the House of Representatives, subject to a free vote given to Liberal and Nationals MPs.
This free vote, Bill Shorten told The Sydney Morning Herald, is vital.
“For marriage equality to happen, Tony Abbott has to give his MPs a free vote,” Mr Shorten said.
Shorten also said of why he believes gay marriage is important, “your relationships are not equally valued by the state, your love is less equal under the law”.
“It excludes couples that are already together in loving relationships – have been for many years, and are entitled to have that love recognised equally under the law,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.