Fears same-sex marriage bill may fail amid rush

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Labor is pushing for a vote on same-sex marriage, but there are concerns that the party has moved too fast to gain sufficient support.

Labor is pushing for a vote on same-sex marriage, but there are concerns that the party has moved too fast to gain sufficient support.

Labor will move a bill to legalise same-sex marriage on Monday, cutting off attempts by the Greens and Senator David Leyonhjelm, who has been delaying introducing his own bill until the Coalition was granted a conscience vote.

Senator Leyonhjelm told SBS that he fears that Labor’s attempts may fail.

“I don’t think the Liberals are going to be stampeded into making up their minds on this by Labor,” he said.

The Liberal Democrat said he had been working with supporters of same-sex marriage in the Liberal Party on a timetable to introduced legislation.

He said while Labor’s move was not irresponsible, it may be more about legacy than equality.

“There is somebody who is going to say ‘I brought same-sex marriage to Australia’,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s irresponsible… The momentum for change is irresistible and they’re just hitching themselves to the wagon.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has denied trying to hijack the debate, but conceded he doesn’t know if the bill has the support to succeed.

Mr Shorten told ABC television that he was prepared for some Labor members to cross the floor on the issue.

“I understand that some people of deep religious conviction don't support marriage equality,” he said.

“So I think it should be a free vote. But what I would also ask is that all parliamentarians are allowed to have a free vote… I would like to see the Liberal Party allow a free vote for their MPs.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott also addressed the issue on Wednesday, telling reporters that it was a matter for discussion in the party room.

“I’m sure at that time we’d have a very full and frank and candid and decent debate inside the party room,” he said.

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Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has also called for a free vote, following his push against his own Left faction against a binding vote on Labor MPs.

"It is now time for Australia to join the nations that recognise people should be able to marry the person that they love," Mr Albanese told parliament.

"I strongly believe there should be a vote this year and it should be a conscience vote."

Australian Christian Lobby director Lyle Shelton said it meant children would miss out on having a mum or dad.

"It is disappointing that Australia's alternative prime minister is legislating a family structure which requires a child to miss out on their mum or dad," he said following the announcement.

"... We urge parliamentarians to vote against the bill."

Source SBS

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