AUSTRALIA: Senate Rejects Marriage Referendum, Calls For Free Vote In Chamber By Year’s End

Australia’s Senate today voted against holding a public referendum on same-sex marriage, instead calling for a free vote in their chamber by the end of the year. Gay News Network reports:

Greens senator Robert Simms (pictured) introduced the motion. Simms is the Greens spokesperson on LGBTI issues and marriage equality. “Momentum continues to build for marriage equality in this country,” Simms said. “Today the Australian Senate rejected a divisive and costly plebiscite and instead called on the Prime Minister to grant a free vote on marriage equality.” “Australians don’t want another opinion poll on this issue. They want the Parliament to legislate.” The motion passed “on the voices” with no precise count taken of who was for or against but a clear majority was in favour of the motion. The Senate’s decision will be communicated to the House of Representatives – although MPs in the lower house are not bound to follow the recommendations of the Senate.

Recently elected Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, long a same-sex marriage advocate, infuriated many supporters when he backed a public vote shortly after taking office.

  • Baby Dave

    I wonder why Julia Gillard, an atheist and powerful figure within the ALP, rejected Marriage Equality when she held power.

    • oikos

      Because she wasn’t an ally.

      • BobSF_94117

        She was an ally, but she was more concerned with herself than with us.

        • oikos

          If she wasn’t concerned enough to advocate for our basic human rights, then she wasn’t an ally.

    • S1AMER

      ‘Cause the majority of her party wasn’t with her back then. Out of office, though, and witnessing the change in the country and around the world, she’s supporting equality now.

      • MacCrocodile

        BREAKING: Politician Does What Is Politically Expedient

      • Toasterlad

        I had no idea Hillary Clinton had a twin in Australia.

        • Baby Dave

          LOL!

      • Baby Dave

        A bit late, since she can’t do anything anymore

    • Because Labour was falling apart when she took power and she thought that the 2004 Democrats and 2015 Labour UK pols thought – that moving to the right and being Liberal/Republican/Tory-Lite would bring back voters. Oops.

      • Baby Dave

        I guess this is why she lost the leadership bid to K-Rudd. She didn’t understand the political situation, and thus had no business being in power

    • Merv99

      My understanding (which may be wrong) was that it was to placate right wing, anti-gay union leaders, who apparently have/had considerable power in Australia’s Labor Party.

      • TampaZeke

        Your understanding is correct. She valued politics more than her legacy.

        • LovesIrony

          And now the world knows her as anti-gay even though she “now” supports our marriages.

          • StraightGrandmother

            To little, to late Julia Gillard. You made a pact in order to maintain support, basically you through people who are gay under the bus in order to personally advance politically.
            Nothing you will say now or in the future will overcome your self-centerness.

          • LADY MABELINE

            That is exactly how I feel about Bill Clinton because of DOMA. I could never vote for him in ’96 as a result.

        • Judas Peckerwood

          More than her legacy and, you know, human rights.

    • Ninja0980

      Simple, she was a bigot who cared more about her power then the rights of LGBT people.

  • AmericanPaPISSED

    A public vote is nothing less than an excuse to allow anti-gay bullies the opportunity to do some “ballot box bashing” against LGBT citizens. Glad to see Australia reject this.

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  • Suck it, Turnbull.

  • TampaZeke

    This is very good news!

    • GW in NZ

      However, despite the liberal attitudes of Australians in general, there is nevertheless a strong, religiously conservative streak in the current Liberal (Ha!) government: Abbot (former PM) aspired to the catholic priesthood; half his senior ministers were catholic (some extremely conservatively so) and Turnbull himself is a practising catholic… Add to that a number of the pentecostal-type conservatives and teabaggers and you have a microcosm of your republian party. So I’m not holding my breath on this – Australian politicians seem to us in lil ol’ NZ a particularly vicious, coarse breed, beholden to outside interests. I’m sure Turnbull knows on which side his bread is buttered!

      • David Walker

        Admittedly I don’t have a grasp on what’s going on elsewhere, but I thought Turnbull was supposed to be a good guy. Or is it that he’s just less awful?

        • He’s just less awful. Turnbull to Abbott is as Reagan to Nixon.

          The problem for both sides of Oz politics is that governments are voted in and out in this country on swings of around 5% — which just happens to be the percentage of the electorate that tell the pollsters their religion influences how they vote. So both the major parties go to a lot of trouble to court the religious vote.

          • David Walker

            Thank you. Reagan to Nixon. Yeesh.

          • BobSF_94117

            I’d take Nixon over Reagan any day.

          • David Walker

            It’s a tough call. Nixon was the first president I ever really, truly hated. But then I really, truly hated Reagan, too, but he came along after Nixon. However, I guess Nixon did have one or two redeeming things. (I think I just got a cramp typing that.)

          • grada3784

            EPA and OSHA, for starters.

          • BobSF_94117

            Nixon was a two-bit criminal compared to what Reagan did regarding, say, the Contras. I’ll take clumsy break-in cover-ups over treason.

      • dgadhadf4583

        That’s because their name comes from classic liberallism, not leftist liberalism as we know it in America.

  • bkmn

    A public vote is a weasel’s way out. Considering public opinion swung to favor marriage equality a while ago this is a very good thing – they were elected to govern, so govern. Earn that paycheck.

    • Nexus1

      Exactly! Plus the fact that the plebiscite would be non binding and a complete waste of money. Add to that the simple fact that the conservatives and Christian fundamentalist in government could still stall a vote on Marriage Equality even after a plebiscite in favor of Marriage Equality. All it would do would be to kick the can down the road for another year or two. This whole thing has been incredible frustrating and imbecilic in my opinion. It is a stain on Australia that their Parliament has been so cowardly and backstabbing on this particular issue in spite of overwhelming public support for Marriage.

  • Blake Jordan

    Will the prime minister do the right thing and let parliament deal with it, and soon…

  • bill@19D

    Well good, this should not go to a public vote, the parliament should do its job and vote on this and pass it!!!!!!

  • Toasterlad

    It is infuriating and humiliating to have your basic civil rights voted upon by majority rule. Pass it legislatively, Australia. And now.

  • I almost moved to Australia in 2007….yes for some guy, of course. One reason I didn’t move (besides the fact he and I were not working out when it stopped being long distance), was I was surprised at how redneck it was there in so many places….and salaries were low, taxes high, and it was hot as hell too. “Oklahoma with a beach” is how I remember it today. NZ is a little more my speed. Tasmania would have been fine, maybe

  • Randolph Finder

    Is this likely to delay things even further with the House trying for a Referendum and the Senate for a clean parlimentary vote?

  • Ninja0980

    Good, civil rights should NEVER be up for a public vote.

  • Turnbull is carrying on as though all that is needed for the plebiscite to take place is for him to issue what in the US is called an Executive Order. Not so; Parliament will have to pass enabling legislation first, and the Senate has signalled it will not pass it. Not without some serious amendments, anyway.

    Note, a Plebiscite is a rather different animal from a Referendum. The purpose of a Referendum is to amend the Constitution, and the result (whether yea or nay) is binding on Parliament. (As the High Court has already ruled that nothing in the Constitution precludes Parliament re-amending the Marriage Act in favour of equality, a referendum is not needed.)

    The result of a Plebiscite is NOT binding — it’s little more than a taxpayer-funded opinion poll — and Parliament is free to ignore it if it so chooses. Should the public vote be in favour of equality the pollies will no doubt trot out all the hoary old reasons for doing that.

    The whole business is simply an excuse for the PM and his mates to play Pilate.

    • Nexus1

      Yep and to kick the can down the road a bit. I still can’t believe they can get anyone to buy into wasting tens of millions of dollars on this thing that nobody wants. I’m to the point where I truly don’t know what has to take place for the Liberals to finally let the free vote happen and for this issue to finally be resolved. When I get married to my Australian partner I’d like for it to be recognized in both of our countries. The way it’s looking we will probably be married in the U.S and have to wait for Australia to catch up.

    • billbear1961

      Nice to see the Senate do the right thing, Roger!

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