Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull has put a promising spin on the marriage equality debacle today, as Sky News reports that the senior Liberal MP considers that a conscience vote for the marriage equality put forward by the Coalition government is “likely” to take place before the next election; a tenuous and completely vague promise, but a huge step forward in the coalition’s history of not allowing free votes on the issue nonetheless.
Speaking to Sky News, Malcolm Turnbull said, “I think it is likely that we will (have a free vote), but as Tony Abbott has said, it is a decision for the party room, not for him.” Mr Turnbull, known for his backing of gay marriage, added, “If a free vote is allowed I will certainly vote in favour of a marriage equality bill.”
The news follows this week’s High Court ruling against the ACT’s historic marriage equality act; a disappointing blow to the same sex marriages in the ACT that had already taken place and a heavy reminder of Australia’s progress, or lack thereof, in regards to marriage equality and LGBT rights. However, as David Marr points out in The Guardian, the High Court’s ruling against the territory’s law simply paves a path to passing marriage equality, as long as it is executed through national law. Thus, the battle has turned exceedingly political on a federal level, and all eyes are on parliament.
To further advocate the bill, Malcolm Turnbull told Sky News, “If you think about the countries that we are culturally closest to, they are the big English-speaking democracies…So people of the same sex can get married in Auckland and Wellington, Toronto and Ottawa and Vancouver, in New York and Los Angeles, and Baltimore, in Cape Town, but not Australia…It does start to look as if we’re the ones out of step.’
Ones out of step, indeed. Whether Turnbull’s predictions of a conscience vote come to fruition is difficult to tell; however the increasing pressure of his advocacy may prove to have a real effect on Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Baby steps.
Via Sky News.
Title image by Stefan Postles via Getty.