Liberal gay marriage supporters in minority, Abbott says ahead of party meeting

Geronimo Vena
Agosto 7, 2017

"I will be arguing the parliamentary free vote option as I think that is most consistent with our traditions but more importantly, there is an electoral advantage as it deals with this quickly by the parliament and is settled for all", said Smith, who has drafted his own marriage equality bill. The proposal from the rebel MPs - Smith and lower house members Trevor Evans, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman and Warren Entsch - will be debated before Turnbull is expected to sum up the will of the group. Religious ministers, civil celebrants, and businesses linked to a religious body who refuse to marry same-sex couples will not be compelled to do so.

"It is a bill that is created to pass the Senate", he told reporters in Sydney.

The bill being pushed by the rebels includes stringent protections for religious communities and marriage equality naysayers.

Many MPs are also expected to continue their push for a plebiscite, which the coalition promised at the last election but has failed to get through parliament.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has issued a stern warning to colleagues pushing for a free vote, insisting they are "honour-bound" to oppose it without a plebiscite.

"Keeping faith with the electorate should weigh just as heavily as deeply-held personal belief", he writes in The Australian.

Mr Abbott, writing in News Corp papers on Monday ahead of a crucial partyroom meeting in which the issue is set to be thrashed out, says those government MPs who support gay marriage are a minority. Several Liberal MPs have threatened to abandon their party's stance on same-sex marriage that mandates determining the issue via a national plebiscite.

Legal advice sought by marriage equality advocates suggests, however, that option isn't possible without legislation, which would be unlikely to pass the Senate.

Senator Smith maintains that this shouldn't be seen as a challenge to Turnbull's leadership. "This is a test for each and every member of the parliamentary Liberal party", he told the ABC.

The bill has the backing of advocates, who believe it's one of the strongest they've seen.

"It is a bill that is created to pass the Senate", Australian Marriage Equality co-chair Alex Greenwich said.

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