Crossbench calls on Labor to work together to pass marriage equality without plebiscite

Greens MP Adam Bandt and independents Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan have written to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten urging Labor to work with the Parliament to pass marriage equality without an expensive and divisive plebiscite.

When Parliament resumes tomorrow, two separate marriage equality bills will be introduced: one from Labor and one co-sponsored by Mr Bandt, Mr Wilkie and Ms McGowan.

In their letter to Mr Shorten, the crossbench MPs state ‘in the last Parliament, the cross-party [marriage equality] bill enjoyed the support of members of the crossbench, Liberal members and Labor members. We have put forward this same bill in the current Parliament as we believe that the best path forward for this important reform is a bill sponsored by members across the political spectrum.’

The crossbench MPs ‘propose that instead of two bills proceeding, we all unify as co-sponsors of one cross-party bill’ as they ‘believe that a bill that is not owned by one political party will have the best chance of attracting a Liberal co-sponsor, especially if legislation enabling a plebiscite is not passed by Parliament.’ Finally they note ‘having the support of several Government MPs will be essential to the bill passing the House of Representatives.’

Greens MP Adam Bandt said: “In the end, love will win. The question is how long we force loving couples to wait, how long we force LGBTIQ people to be less equal and have fewer rights than everyone else.”

“If we all work together, we have a real chance to pass marriage equality through Parliament sooner rather than later, without a divisive and wasteful plebiscite. By working together, wedding bells could be sounding before Christmas this year.”

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whose name appears on the bill, what matters is it gets passed.”

“Now that the issue of equality is firmly on the national agenda, I’m worried that if one party tries to own it, it will fail.”

“It’s easy to bowl up a bill and have it voted down, but the best path to reform now will be a bill that has cross-Parliamentary support and ideally a Liberal backbench co-sponsor that we progress through Parliament together.”

Read the full letter to Mr Shorten here.

Media contact: Adam Pulford, 0429 109 054