Australia Has Voted In The Same Sex Marriage Survey

The marriage debate is about nothing more or less than whether fellow human beings can be allowed equality says Bill Hoffman

After weeks of intensified debate, 61% Australian voters have declared that same sex couples should be allowed to marry by way of a unique postal survey devised by the Turnbull Government.

Despite some early criticisms that the use of the postal system would make the survey inaccessible, an overwhelming 79.5 per cent of Australian voters did participate, in what the Chief Statistician called an "outstanding" turnout.

Various opinion polls point to a majority "yes" vote, possibly as high as 60 per cent.

Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales and Scotland.

Australians have made history, voting overwhelming in favor of marriage equality.

Liberal "Yes" supporter Dean Smith is expected to put forward a bill on same sex marriage today after the Prime Minister dismissed an alternative bill from conservatives.

Both the Coalition and the opposition Labor Party have promised to give their MPs a conscience vote on the bill.

The postal survey result "will certainly encourage the prime minister and the position he's taken as a strong advocate for yes in his ongoing battle with the conservative wing of his party", said Haydon Manning, a political analyst at Flinders University in Adelaide.

The Nationals and a powerful right-wing faction of the Liberals - including prominent members of Turnbull's Cabinet - are strongly opposed to equal marriage, while centrists and the youth wing of the Liberals are in favour of reform.

If Turnbull has fumbled a basic human rights issue that other comparable countries like New Zealand have already resolved just to appease a conservative but vocal minority faction fronted by ex-PM Tony Abbott, then he will have miscalculated the generosity Australians feel towards his increasingly tenuous government.

Labor Senator Penny Wong, who has co-signed Senator Smith's bill, said Senator Paterson's proposal was a "distraction". Ironically to ensure these protections, the bill would override existing state and territory anti-discrimination and freedom-of-speech laws. "I don't think this survey was a vote on expanding the capacity to discriminate in our society".

She said the outcome will boost marriage equality campaigners in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

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