Via Australia’s 9 News:
The Australian Senate wants all members of parliament to have a conscience vote on gay marriage. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young won upper house support on Wednesday for a motion stating every person in federal parliament should be able to freely decide their position on marriage equality. Senator Hanson-Young said it was time for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has so far refused a conscience vote, to catch up. But Attorney-General George Brandis said the motion was redundant for Liberal and National party members because “every vote is a conscience vote”. “All members are always at liberty to vote at variance from their party’s agreed position,” he told parliament. The coalition doesn’t suspend members for crossing the floor, however if a minister votes against the party they must retire from their frontbench position.
Australian Marriage Equality reacted with a dig at Alabama:
Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said, “Tony Abbott has been sent a direct message by the Senate to allow a free vote so marriage equality can move forward.” “Before the election he promised the Liberal/National party room would be able to debate a marriage equality free vote and it’s high time he fulfilled that promise.” “It borders on the absurd that we have the Liberal and National parties – parties that say they are champions of individual freedom – not allowing a free vote and not even supporting a motion calling for one.” Mr Croome said it is deeply embarrassing to many Australians that same-sex marriages are allowed in Alabama but not Australia. “When you’re human rights record is worse than Alabama’s you know you’re in trouble.” “If, as seems likely, Ireland endorses marriage equality in a referendum in May, Australia will be the only developed, English-speaking country without the reform.”
(Tipped by JMG reader Lulu)