AUSTRALIA: Marriage Plebiscite Considered Dead

Same Same reports:

It’s official, the plebiscite is dead. It’s been confirmed that opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the Labor party have just voted to block the Turnbull government’s proposed plebiscite, which was expected to cost upwards of $200 million, finally laying to rest the unpopular and divisive opinion poll.

Marriage equality advocates are celebrating the decision as a win for members of the LGBTI community, who have voted overwhelmingly against the plebiscite. Speaking this morning ahead of the caucus, Tanya Plibersek called the plebiscite a “wasteful exercise” for “something that should be determined by the parliament”.

Ahead of today’s caucus, the government last night released their proposed changes to the Marriage Act, which included changing the definition of marriage from being between “a man and a woman” to “between two people”. However, it was also revealed that the changes would allow religious bodies, marriage celebrants and “church owned businesses” exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, meaning they’d be free to deny same-sex couples their services.

More from CNN:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said if the plebiscite isn’t held, marriage equality could be off the agenda until 2019, which is when the next general elections will be held. However, one of Australia’s most prominent gay politicians supports rejecting the plebiscite and is prepared to wait for gay marriage in Australia. “No other human rights issue is put to a national vote in Australia,” Andrew Barr, Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister, told CNN.

“In Australia we can declare war, we can send our troops overseas into battle without even consulting our parliament … and yet for something as straightforward as including everyone in marriage, our current government believes there needs to be a vote of every Australian,” the Labor politician said. Numerous Western countries, including New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, have legalized same-sex marriage in recent years.

And from ABC Australia:

Nationals MP Andrew Broad this morning threatened to withdraw his support for the Government if it allowed gay couples to marry without holding the plebiscite. “The Government that I am a part of, and will remain a part of, is conditional upon the fact that the only way that there will be a change to the Marriage Act in this Parliament is a plebiscite,” the Member for the Victorian seat of Mallee said.

“I’m making it very clear here: my support for the Government is that we honour our election commitment, that we ask the Australian people for their say on this issue. Attorney-General George Brandis earlier on Tuesday urged the Opposition to change course. “We could have this outcome four months from today if the Labor Party put the political games aside,” he said.