Push to hasten gay marriage debate
Marriage equality advocates have criticised Labor's right faction for bringing the parliamentary debate on gay marriage forward.
The right faction, reportedly led by Labor whip Joel Fitzgibbon (pictured), have pushed to bring forward debate on Labor MP Stephen Jones' private member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage on the grounds that it cannot pass parliament and the debate is hurting the party.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich said that the bill's defeat was not inevitable.
"Opponents of marriage equality were proven wrong when they said the public would never support it, the Labor Party would never endorse it, and that state parliaments would never uphold it in principle," Greenwich said.
"I believe marriage equality has a sporting chance of passing, because I have seen how quickly seemingly impassable barriers have dissolved in the past."
"Those Labor MPs who are pushing for marriage equality to be promptly debated and defeated are betraying the party grass roots who strongly support reform and want to see it achieved," Greenwich said.
Greenwich accused opponents of reform of "myth-making" and trying to create a "self-fulfilling prophecy".
Responding to Fitzgibbon's claim that his electorate is against reform and that it will "traumatise" some of his elderly constituents, Greenwich pointed to a 2010 Newspoll which found only 33 per cent of Fitzgibbon's constituents oppose marriage equality, while 67 per cent support it or don't care either way.
Greens MP Adam Bandt, who has a separate marriage equality bill before parliament, has vowed to delay debate on his bill until opposition leader Tony Abbott allows a conscience vote for all members of the Coalition.
"It [reform] should be done not just because it's popular but because it is right," Bandt said.
"But I'm optimistic of achieving reform within the life of this Parliament, with some more discussion and more persuasion."
Finance Minister Penny Wong, who has strongly supported marriage equality, said she believed change would eventually come.
"I think the campaign is not going to go away, because ultimately it's a campaign for people's equality," she said.
Meanwhile, former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has said in an interview on SkyNews that, although he supports marriage equality in principle, he will be voting against the bill.
"If there was a conscience vote on this issue, subject to the legislation being satisfactory, going through it, I would be more likely to support it than not," he said.
"[...] But the fact is that politics is a team sport, we have decided on our side not to have a conscience vote on this issue. There is a variety of views on that as you know, but we’re not going to have conscience vote on this issue, so I won’t be crossing the floor on this issue."