Gay Liberal MP Dean Smith promises full support towards bill to legalise gay marriage

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A gay rights activist holds a placard during a rally supporting same-sex marriage, in Sydney, Australia May 31, 2015. Bill Shorten, leader of Australia's opposition Labour Party introduced a bill to legalise same-sex marriage on June 1, 2015, adding the backing of a major party to growing public support for the issue after last month's landmark 'yes' vote in Ireland. Shorten introduced the bill, the first by a leader of a major Australian political party, in the government-dominated lower house of parliament despite opposition from conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is not expected to allow it to come up for a vote. Picture taken May 31, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

Tony Abbott’s stand on gay marriage and his decision to bar MPs from casting conscience vote attracted criticisms from his own party members. Gay Liberal senator from Western Australia, Dean Smith, has vowed to stand up for and extend his support towards legalisation of same-sex marriage, if a bill is introduced in the Parliament for vote.

Smith, who declared support toward same-sex marriage earlier this year, expressed disappointment that his party broke the tradition by denying the MPs a conscience vote. He is also the first Coalition MP to announce that they would even be going to the extent of crossing the floor in support of Queensland Liberal National MP Warren Entsch's cross-party bill, though he shares strict conservative stance on many other issues.

Entsch said he will be introducing a bill, co-sponsored by the Labor Party, in the House of Representatives on Monday for legalising same sex marriage. He said he is quite certain that the bill would not get a smooth transition after the Coalition party decided against conscience vote on Tuesday.

"In contemporary Australian society, it is no longer defensible for the state to deny proper and equal recognition of a marriage between two consenting adults, simply based on their sexuality,” Smith said on Wednesday. "I intend to use the full liberties available to me as a government backbench senator to support same sex marriage if a private member's bill comes before the Senate."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday that Cabinet members who decide to go against the party’s stand should resign. Smith argued that the issue is so much deeply intertwined with in a person’s attitude toward faith and sexuality, that it is but obvious that the Parliamentarians should be allowed to vote according to their conscience. Liberal politicians have been allowed to cast conscience votes on three previous occasions of debates on marriage and family law, which included the 1974 Marriage Law Bill regulating divorce and Marriage Bill in 1961, according to Smith.

"I am disappointed there has been such a significant departure from the previous custom and practice of the Parliamentary Liberal Party," he said.

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