The issue of marriage equality will come to a head today as Liberal MPs and Senators attend a special party room meeting, where reformers will push for a free vote in parliament.
The meeting comes after weeks of momentum has been building behind a new discussion around the issue of marriage equality, with backbencher Dean Smith having drafted his own Private Member’s marriage equality bill.
Senator Smith joins four other MPs including Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson, Trevor Evans and Warren Entsch, all of whom are expected to push for a parliamentary vote on the bill, rather than the current party-preferred postal plebiscite.
Political commentators believe that the most likely outcome of the meeting is a reaffirmation of a plebiscite, where the question will be put to a vote by the public. Supporters of marriage equality have repeatedly condemned the push for a plebiscite, stating that the move is nothing more than a delay tactic, given that the Parliament already has the capability to amend the Marriage Act.
The current bill being considered, allows for two people to marry regardless of their gender, while enshrining protections and exemptions for religious communities. It is expected that the Labor Party will also support Senator Smith’s bill.
The bill also has the support of marriage equality advocates, who believe that it is one of the strongest they have ever seen. “It is a bill that is designed to pass the Senate,” said Australian Marriage Equality co-chair Alex Greenwich.