Culture

The Senate Has Officially Killed The Marriage Equality Plebiscite

Now, how about a free vote in parliament?

More than a year after it was first proposed by then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the government’s plan to hold a public vote on whether to legalise same-sex marriage has been shot down on the floor of the senate. The divisive proposal was defeated 33-29 in a vote on Monday night, with the decision expected to lead to renewed pressure on Malcolm Turnbull to allow a free parliamentary vote on the issue instead.

The Plebiscite Probably Won’t Go Ahead; So What Does That Mean For Marriage Equality?

Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon team and Derryn Hinch all voted against the plebiscite-enabling legislation, while the Coalition, One Nation, David Leyonhjelm and Jacqui Lambie voted in favour. Liberal senator Dean Smith, who is openly gay, abstained from the vote after declaring that “plebiscites are not and should not be a feature of our democratic culture in Australia.”

Labor’s Penny Wong slammed Malcolm Turnbull for caving to conservative forces within his party, calling the plebiscite a “Faustian pact he made with those who will never support equality.”

“The Abbott-Abetz-Bernardi plebiscite was a cynical and cruel political tactic that was rightly opposed by the Liberal moderates and by the man who is now the Prime Minister, Mr. Turnbull,” she said. “How times change.”

The demise of the plebiscite has been hailed by LGBTQI rights groups – who feared that an expensive, non-binding vote would inspire a campaign of hateful rhetoric – as a victory.

However Attorney-General George Brandis warned that a free vote in parliament was unlikely to take place under the current government – despite the fact that a majority of Australians are in favour of marriage equality. In a last-ditch effort to get the plebiscite over the line, he said that voting against it would mean that “the cause of marriage equality will be delayed for years. He also demanded that the Senate “stop playing politics with gay people’s lives.”

Yeah, we know. The hypocrisy overwhelmed us too.