The first ever openly homosexual Liberal parliamentarian has slammed Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek‘s push for a binding vote regarding gay marriage.
Dean Smith, a conservative senator from WA, has said he is personally disappointed with Plibersek’s push to axe the conscience vote.
Currently, Labor supports gay marriage. But with the conscience vote, each MP is able to vote using their personal preference. Liberal does not have the conscience vote, and does not support gay marriage – something Smith was hoping to change.
“If the ALP was to adopt a binding vote on same-sex marriage then the issue of a conscience vote in the Liberal Party is dead,” Senator Smith told Fairfax Media.
“Conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage and a conscience vote will be sitting pretty. … Tanya Plibersek will be the first line in their argument. … This has put the cause back and she needs to explain herself to same-sex marriage proponents. … There has been a slow and cautious approach to achieving a conscience vote and she has wrecked that.”
Smith had a longstanding objection to gay marriage, but revealed earlier this year that he had changed his stance.
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm also rejected Plibersek’s push for a binding vote: “I think there should be a conscience vote for all politicians,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
“Nobody should be forced to vote against their values on this.”
Ms Plibersek will argue her wish to axe the conscience vote at the ALP National Conference in July.
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