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the major parties on marriage equality

538px-Woman-and-woman-icon.svgFor the majority of Australians in support of marriage equality, it kinda feels like everyone keeps. Beating. Us. And while many sit in wait for moments like this to become a part of Aussie history, it’s worth taking a look at where the major parties stand on the issue.

Marriage equality is a two-pronged issue vote-wise. There’s each party’s official platform as to whether they think it’s a good idea and whether they will allow their members to have a conscience vote on legislation around it, and then there’s also whether or not individual senators or MPs openly support the issue — and quite a few do, even though their parties stand against it.

Another curve ball was thrown into this issue when this morning’s news reported Independent Tony Windsor and the Greens are pushing for a  referendum-like process, called a plebiscite, to be put to each voter at the September 14 election.

If you want to know if your local MP supports marriage equality, or if you’re curious to crunch the numbers, Australian Marriage Equality has some great search engines and stats bases here. Otherwise, let’s check out the official party lines…


Labor’s leader, Julia Gillard, might believe that marriage belongs exclusively to man + woman types, but that’s not the full picture of the party’s relationship with the issue. At the 2011 Labor National Conference, the party voted to support gay marriage in principle. Members were also granted a conscience vote on the issue, so disagreeing isn’t a deal breaker for Labor Party membership, and Julia Gillard is still against it. Funny thing about politics is that “in principle” support doesn’t necessarily mean change — in order to achieve marriage equality you need a successful bill to be introduced to parliament, and that hasn’t been realised yet.


Tony Abbott’s daughters may support a change to the Marriage Act, but as far as the broader Liberal Party goes there isn’t so much support for a change. Unlike Labor, the Liberals don’t support marriage equality in their federal platform and they won’t allow their members a conscience vote at this stage, either. It’s not all a no-go though: there are a handful of senior Liberal figures, like Malcolm Turnbull and WA Premier Colin Barnett, who support a conscience vote on the issue. Further, there are MPs at state and federal level who openly support same-sex marriage too. Last week, Tony Abbott backed down from never allowing his fellow members a conscience vote, after NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell spoke of his support for gay marriage.

The Nationals

The Nationals decided against a conscience vote in June 2012, meaning both parts of the coalition aren’t too on board with the concept. In 2011, Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce gave a memorable speech at an anti same-sex marriage rally in which he said marriage equality would affect his daughter’s future marriages with men. That said, he is one National who supports a conscience vote.

The Greens

Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced one of two bills to amend the Marriage Act in favour of marriage equality in 2012. The party supports same-sex marriage as part of their federal platform and are some of the loudest voices when it comes to calling on the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to change their stances. Two weeks ago Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced a bill into the Senate that would see foreign same-sex marriages recognised as legal marriages in Australia, while debate on Bandt’s bill to amend the Marriage Act will continue later this year.


Then, there’s the politicians-to-be…

National Young Labor

The 2011 Young Labor National Conference saw the Young Labor caucus back same sex marriage and put pressure on Federal Labor to implement the changes to its national platform in 2011.

National Young Liberals

In February this year the Young Liberal movement backed a conscience vote for marriage equality at their federal conference, despite the Liberal Party proper still a distance from such a decision.

More details on the latest suggestions that the Australian people vote on the issue at the next election can be found here and here.

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