Australian Greens concerned over too-early vote on marriage equality bill

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Australian Green Party have voiced their concerns over the government attempting to bring an early vote on the marriage equality bill in an attempt to clear it off the political agenda.

The House of Representatives will debate Labor MP Stephen Jones’ Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 tonight.

According to Australia’s Nine News, Greens MP Adam Bandt has spoken of his worries over this: “I am concerned that the government is trying to bring this on for debate and push it to an early vote so that [opposition Leader] Tony Abbott is not brought under any more pressure to grant a conscience vote.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard – who has remained staunch in her views on traditional marriage – needed, said Mr Green, to show leadership and make a decisive move on the subject in order to ensure she doesn’t end up on what he called the “wrong side of history”.

Mr Bandt said: “We have to make sure we do not fast-track a debate in the House Of Reps only to see the vote lose in an attempt to get it off the election agenda.”

While appearing at an Australian Education Union, Mr Jones refused to respond to reporters’ questions about the bill, saying, “I’m not here to talk about anything except Gonski today.”

Last week, the premiers of South Australia and Tasmania said that they would legislate to introduce same-sex marriage regardless of what Australian federal Prime Minister Julia Gillard or parliament does.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill told LGBT rights campaigners at a rally in Adelaide that he would introduce legislation to allow same-sex marriage at a state level and would support the Greens’ bill – although he would give his own Labor MPs the choice of how to vote.

Ms Gillard said she held the view “very deeply” that marriage should not be opened up to gay couples, but said it was “not for her” to tell Labor party members how to vote on the issue in parliament.