'Freedom To Marry' Bill Seeks Traction in Australia; PM Tony Abbott Remains Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage

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Dawn Schmitz (L) and Holly Middleton (R) wait to apply for a marriage license at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds office in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 13, 2014.
Dawn Schmitz (L) and Holly Middleton (R) wait to apply for a marriage license at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds office in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 13, 2014. REUTERS/Davis Turner REUTERS/Davis Turner

An Australian Liberal party senator is set to introduce the Freedom to Marry bill despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott's strong opposition to same-sex marriage. The Liberal party will have to consider the idea of allowing its members to vote freely on the issue of same-sex marriage. The party is expected to decide on a conscience vote to allow the bill to be presented to parliament.

Senator David Layonhjelm said his Freedom to Marry bill will prevent the government from stopping the marriage of two people based on the reason that they have the same sex. Supporters of same-sex marriage in Australia have failed to change the law in the previous parliament at a time when Labour MPs and senators were allowed to have a conscience vote. However, representatives of the Coalition were there to block the bill.

The Guardian reports that Leyonhjelm wanted to create a Coalition decision to a conscience vote but said he will not propose to the Senate to vote on the bill until he has the support of the majority. He told reporters on Nov 26 that he was in a meeting with the prime minister a few weeks ago. The senator revealed that Mr Abbott remains opposed to same-sex marriage and was not so "enthusiastic" about bringing up the proposed bill. Mr Abbott told Leyonhjelm that the government is currently facing different issues and the same-sex marriage bill would only add to the "troubles."  The Liberal senator was not convinced of Mr Abbott's reasons and decided to bring the bill forward.

Ivan Hinton-Teoh, Australian Marriage Equality deputy director, has called on Coalition MPs and senators to vote on the matter. He believes the legislation would spare same-sex couples in Australia the "indignity" of going abroad to get married but have their union declared void upon returning home. Hinton-Teoh said marriage equality had the support of the community, as indicated in an SMH report.

In a recent speech to the Senate, Leyonhjelm said the Freedom to Marry bill would allow anyone in Australia to get married no matter the sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. He believes the government should not interfere with personal choices which include marrying someone of the same sex. 

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