Not one, but two private members bills that would end the prohibition of gay marriage were introduced to the House of Representatives yesterday. The first is co-sponsored by Adam Bandt of the Greens, and Andrew Wilkie, the second introduced by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones.
The bigger question, however, is whether there exists the votes to pass the bill. At the moment, while Labor members have a conscience vote on the matter, while Coalition MPs and Senators don’t, the answer is a straightforward “no”. However, Bandt has suggested that Labor and the Coalition might seek to do a deal supporting civil unions but not gay marriage.
There is pretty strong support in the community for same-sex marriage – the last Essential Research poll in July 2011 had 54% support, with 35% opposed. Even Coalition voters are pretty evenly divided, with 41% supporting and 48% opposed.
All that said, it’s hard to see any of the bills getting up while Tony Abbott remains the leader of the Liberal Party, and Labor insists on a conscience vote.
Can anybody see a path for one of these bills to pass this parliament, as much as we might wish them to?