Today, Australian citizens voted 61.6% for nationwide marriage equality in a non-binding postal plebiscite. The results of the Australia marriage vote lays the groundwork for a legislative battle in Australia’s parliament as same-sex marriage advocates push for a nationwide bill legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and conservatives seek amendments that would allow discrimination against same-sex couples.
The results of the Australia marriage vote
David W. Kalisch, head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced the results of the $122 million plebiscite today. The results were 61.6% for to 38.4% against. An estimated 12.6 million of Australia’s 16 million eligible voters (or roughly 78.5%) mailed in their ballot.
However, the results merely return the matter to Australia’s parliament where legislators will now fight over what rights to grant and deny to same-sex couples.
The Liberal Party has already drawn up a marriage bill in case of a “yes” vote. The draft bill was written by Senator Dean Smith and contains some exemptions: It allows ministers to refuse to officiate same-sex marriages. Likewise, organizations with a clear religious purpose can also opt out. The bill, as it stands now, is popular with the “Yes” campaign. The Labor Party has also backed it.
However, Conservative-leaning Liberal senator James Paterson has already drafted up a rival bill that would allow anyone with a religious or “conscientious belief” against same-sex marriage or premarital sex to refuse services to same-sex couples or those who have had children out of wedlock.
Liberal Parliament Member Ian Goodenough said, “The focus (of the Paterson bill) will be in the area of preserving parental rights, freedom of speech and institutional considerations such as curriculum in schools, access to reproductive technology, correctional facilities, et cetera.”
Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said any bill legalizing discrimination against same-sex couples would have “virtually no prospect” of passing through Parliament.
The Australia marriage vote wasn’t a pretty affair
LGBTQ and HIV activist Nic Holas said that the marriage plebescite forced Australians to have a public debate on same-sex relationships with a “really ugly ‘No’ campaign running … lots of misinformation and lies.”
Now that the vote is over, the “Yes” side has planned celebratory parties in most major cities, while the other side focuses on the possible legislative gains that can still be won in Parliament.