Traditionally right-wing Labor Party powerbroker Mark Arbib is the latest influential ALP figure to turn against our Prime Minister on the gay marriage issue.
“If I was the parent of a gay son or daughter I don’t know how I could tell them they didn’t have the same rights as I do,” the frontbencher (pictured) has told The Weekend Australian.
Same-sex couples should have the legal right to marry, and all MPs should be given a conscience vote on the issue, he suggested.
Despite mounting pressure for MPs to be allowed a conscience vote on the Greens’ upcoming Bill which would allow gay unions, Julia Gillard says the official ALP policy that marriage can only be between a man and a woman should be looked at in 18 months’ time.
“Mark has expressed his personal views and no doubt he will take them to the next [Labor Party] National Conference [scheduled for 2012], which is the proper place to have this debate,” she said of Arbib’s differing stance on the issue.
Arbib’s statement this weekend is a “turning point” that will open the door for other Labor MPs to declare their support for gay marriage law reform, believes Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich.
“The fact that marriage equality now has support from leaders of Labor’s left and right factions means the Labor Government has little choice but to reverse its blanket opposition to marriage equality and allow a conscience vote,” he says.
“It’s time for the silent majority of Labor MPs who support marriage equality to publicly speak out for reform, including those Government Ministers who have traditionally advocated for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender human rights like Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek.”
Two weeks ago Australian Marriage Equality released a Galaxy research poll showing 62% of Australians believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and 78% support a conscience vote on the issue.
Labor and the Coalition’s negative stance on the gay marriage is one key reason why both parties were punished in the general election polls in favour of the progressive Greens, believe marriage equality activists.