Labor MPs side with Coalition to defeat marriage bill
A marriage equality bill introduced into Federal Parliament has been overwhelmingly defeated in the lower house today after almost half of all Labor MPs sided with leader Julia Gillard and the Coalition to oppose the reform.
The bill introduced by Labor MP Stephen Jones saw just 42 MPs vote in support with 98 MPs opposing.
Despite marriage equality being a part of the Labor Party’s official party platform, only 38 out of a total 71 Labor MPs were prepared to vote in favour of the party’s policy.
Of those to side with Gillard’s opposition to the bill were the likes of Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan, former PM Kevin Rudd, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, Trade Minister Craig Emerson, Chief Whip Joel Fitzgibbon and Defence Minister Robert McClelland.
All Coalition MPs voted against the bill after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott refused a conscience vote but high-profile Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull admitted he would have voted in favour if he was allowed to.
Greens MP Adam Bandt as well as Independents Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie voted for the bill while fellow Independent Tony Windsor voted against. The exiled Labor MP Craig Thomson also voted in favour of the bill.
Jones said though the vote had been lost in Parliament the support in the community showed that the debate would be won.
“Clearly we’ve won the debate in the Australian community – over 62 per cent of Australians believe that we should make laws to allow for marriage equality,” he said.
“In the words of another great Australian, ‘maintain your rage’, because I’m quite confident that in about 10 years’ time, some or all of us are going to be attending a same-sex marriage that will be both conducted and recognised here in Australia.”
Speaking outside Parliament, Labor MP Anthony Albanese, who voted in support of the reform, said it was only a matter of time before equal marriage laws were introduced.
“All the figures show that there is majority community support on this issue ... and I think at some future time, Parliament will catch up with the community opinion,” he told reporters.
Bandt said Gillard and those within the Labor Party who supported her opposition to the reform had shown breathtaking cynicism.
“By forcing a vote early knowing it would be lost, Labor’s factions have cynically attempted to push the issue off the political agenda.
“But the campaign for equality will continue,” he said.
“My bill for marriage equality remains before the Parliament and the Greens will continue to work with the community to achieve full equality.”
Labor Senator Louise Pratt who has a marriage equality bill currently before the upper house claimed the failure of the vote fell back to Abbott’s refusal of a conscience vote and not the reticence of ALP members to believe in their own party’s policy.
“The reason that we lost today is because Tony Abbott refused to allow his members a conscience vote,” she said.
“Tony Abbott says ‘no’ to everything. He says ‘no’ to equality for same-sex attracted couples. He says ‘no’ to their family and friends. He even says ‘no’ to his own party members.”
Marriage equality advocates, who were expecting the defeat of today’s vote, said they were nevertheless extremely disappointed.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays national spokesperson, Shelley Argent, said politicians would soon need to listen to the will of the public.
“Parents with gay and lesbian children know a majority of Australians support our kids being treated equally, and believe it is inevitable our politicians will too,” she said.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, meanwhile said advocates would continue to lobby for the reform as events overseas showed marriage equality laws could be successfully legislated for even after being initially defeated.
“It is heartbreaking that the cards have been stacked against us because of Labor’s refusal to vote as a party and the Coalition's refusal to allow a conscience vote, but the desire of the majority of Australians to see their gay friends and family members treated with respect and dignity will win out,” Greenwich said.
“What we can be sure of is that future generations will judge very harshly those politicians who have been speed bumps on the road to equality.”
- Tags: Adam Bandt, Alex Greenwich, Anthony Albanese, Australian Marriage Equality, Blaze, Chris Bowen, Coalition, Federal Parliament, House of Representatives, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Labor Party, Law, Louise Pratt, Malcolm Turnbull, Marriage Equality, MCV, PFLAG, Politics, Queensland Pride, Rob Oakeshott, Same-Sex Marriage, Shelley Argent, Stephen Jones, SX, Tony Abbott, Wayne Swan