Deadlock as rebel Aussie politicians prevent fresh bid for gay marriage vote

The Liberal Party promised constituents that it would allow gay marriage to be determined via popular vote, but hit several roadblocks in 2016 legislation when the Senate rejected it, fearful of the costs it could incur.

"The government is committed to keep faith with the promise we made at the last election", Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann told reporters.

Earlier this week, the Human Rights Law Centre announced that a postal plebiscite would immediately be subject to a High Court challenge, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional for the government to spend taxpayer money on a national vote without passing legislation.

The plebiscite has been criticized for being costly - it would likely require an estimated $160 million (in USA currency) of taxpayer funds.

The leader of the Labor opposition party, Mr Bill Shorten, who supports same-sex marriage, said that holding a plebiscite was "ridiculous".

"I don't think the ABS has the authority to run the plebiscite to be truthful", he said. The upper house Senate rejected a government proposal on the issue, stating a free vote in parliament was the best way of dealing with the matter.

Polls show that the majority of Australians believe same-sex marriage should be legalized. It would push to hold a plebiscite - public vote - on marriage equality. Forster on Monday noted to the Blade that marriage rights for same-sex couples have "broad community support and would do nothing more than bring us into line with the USA, U.K., New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and other countries" in which "same-sex marriage is legal and has had absolutely no detrimental impact".

"This is something that ought not to be put to a plebiscite, this is something that parliamentarians are paid for to decide and our position hasn't changed", he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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As you've no doubt heard, the government has recommitted to its plebiscite policy before voting on same sex marriage.

In the event of a "yes" vote in either case, the government would allow a private member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage to be introduced to the house in the final sitting fortnight of 2017. He added, "I'm a strong leader".

The seven lawmakers who spoke against the plebiscite at the meeting were outnumbered more than three-to-one by 27 colleagues who supported the 2-year-old policy.

He concluded: 'Vote in Parliament and say "yes" to gay marriage and let's live happily ever after'.

The firm recently acted pro bono in what's being described as a landmark decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, which found that Australia must give access to its divorce mechanisms to same-sex couples who married overseas.

Terri Butler, a federal member of parliament leading the opposition's marriage equality campaign, vowed not to boycott plans for a postal plebiscite despite concerns that Australians might not participate in a non-binding vote.

A prominent senator, Mr Nick Xenophon, who leads his own party, also urged a swift free vote, saying the stalemate had been an "international embarrassment".

  • Sonia Alvarado