2016 the Year of Marriage Equality in Australia
12 January 2016 at 11:43 am
Australian marriage equality advocates are preparing to campaign heavily throughout 2016 as a public vote on the issue looms.
Director of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, told Pro Bono Australia News that this year would be a critical one for same sex couples in Australia.
“I hope 2016 will be the year for marriage equality because Australians have waited long enough for this reform and we don’t want to be left even further behind. I really hope this will be the year,” Croome said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to hold a plebiscite on the issue of marriage equality if his party wins the next election, which all the latest opinion polls indicate it will.
Croome said research showed that roughly 70 per cent of Australians were now in favour of marriage equality, making a vote in favour of it in a plebiscite likely.
But he said his organisation still opposed the very idea of a plebiscite, which he described as “basically a very expensive national opinion poll”.
“I am optimistic that Australians would vote for marriage equality in a plebiscite, but we believe a plebiscite is unnecessary,” Croome said.
“Marriage equality is an issue that really should be resolved in parliament and a plebiscite would cost at least $150 million and would be potentially quite divisive.
“The prime minister has said that if the Australian people vote yes in a plebiscite then that will become law through parliament but there are other parliamentarians that have said they won’t be bound by a plebiscite.
“Our view is that it should really be resolved by parliament as soon as possible rather than be delayed by this expensive, elaborate opinion poll.”
Croome said his organisation had been on contact with Turnbull’s office to discuss the specific details of the plebiscite.
Marriage Equality Australia has launched a national fundraising campaign to “make sure we are not outspent by those campaigning to block equality”.
Croome said he was waiting on the results of research into how his organisation could best reach different communities with its message before he would put a figure on the amount it hoped to raise through the fundraising campaign, but he said it would need to be a “substantial amount”.
“I do expect those that oppose marriage equality to voice their views, which they have every right to do, and I would call on them to do it in a way that is as respectful as possible,” he said.
“In other countries where marriage equality has been resolved by popular vote there has been strong campaigns against it… and I’d expect the same in Australia.”
When Malcolm Turnbull took office in September last year it was the first time Australia had a prime minister and an opposition leader who publicly supported marriage equality.