Gay couples may have to put their wedding plans on hold just that little bit longer – but the good news is that a vote on legislating same-sex marriage may not be too far away.
Liberal sources say Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will push to ensure same-sex marriage is made legal “sooner rather than later” if Australians vote in favour of it.
Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who co-sponsored a same-sex marriage bill last month, told The Australian he was backing the new Prime Minister to deliver the reform following a national plebiscite.
He acknowledged Mr Turnbull had agreed to hold a “people’s vote”, which would lead to a decision on same-sex marriage being delayed until after the next election. However, Mr Entsch said he believed the Prime Minister would propose a clearly defined timeframe and question before voters went to the polls.
He accepted Mr Turnbull had no choice but to abandon a free parliamentary vote, but he told The Australian he was confident the reform could be accelerated.
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“Like me, he (Mr Turnbull) would have preferred to have a free vote in the parliament, but a decision was made in the partyroom that we would have a plebiscite, that is not my preferred position, that wasn’t his,” the Queensland MP is quoted as saying.
“What he can do, however, is accelerate the process. I think he has a lot more credibility on this issue and people will believe that he will make it happen. People will be very clear on what we are doing immediately after the election. People will accept his word on it.”
Mr Entsch described criticism of Mr Turnbull for maintaining Tony Abbott’s position on a plebiscite as a “cheap shot”.
“He has absolutely no choice because what Malcolm has committed to do as part of getting this job is that he will have a Westminster system of government — there will be no captain’s picks, we will be a government that will be run by cabinet and it will be informed by its partyroom,” Mr Entsch said.
The Australian says in question time last week, Mr Turnbull rejected criticism from Labor that he had “sold out” on gay marriage by maintaining the government’s position on a popular vote.
Which way would you vote – pro or anti same-sex marriage?