Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Enlist Support of Liberal MPs to Pass Australia's Marriage Equality Law

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By Reissa Su | December 23, 2013 2:38 PM EST

Same-sex marriage advocates in Australia are targeting 70 federal politicians to try and convince them to change their position on marriage equality in 2014. Some of the MPs on the list include Treasurer Joe Hockey and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Gay marriage supporters are expected to face a long battle with 15 new Liberal politicians saying they were unable to change their stand against same-sex marriage or were unwilling to declare support based on the results of a survey.

Advocate group Australian Marriage Equality is set to target 50 members of the lower house with 2014 with a two-thirds bias towards Liberal party members. Aside from Mr Hockey and Ms Bishop, among the high-profile targets include Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Assistant Minister Sussan Ley. Targets in the Labour Party include shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and Ed Husic.

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declined to take side in the same-sex marriage debate as some of his colleagues continue to fight over the legalisation of gay marriage. Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi has called for the removal of Malcolm Turnbull from office after Mr Turnbull expressed his support for the ACT's Marriage Equality Bill. According to Senator Bernardi, there was "no room for ministers" to express personal views that were not in line with the party's policy.

The High Court of Australia surprised the federal government when it said unequivocally that it is up to the federal Parliament to pass a law allowing gay marriage in Australia. Since the fate of marriage equality is on the hands of federal government, it is only a matter of political will.

Since the High Court had invalidated ACT's gay marriage laws, the decision had closed the door on the chances of similar legislation being passed across the country. A positive High Court decision would have pressured the Coalition government to legalise same-sex marriage.

Australian Marriage Equality National Director Rodney Croome said 25 MPs will be needed to change their position to pass the gay marriage law if Liberal MPs were allowed to make a conscience vote. He said 10 senators are needed to change their positions. 

Unlke Labour politicians, Liberal MPs do not have a conscience vote on the matter. However, Tony Abbott said the issue of same-sex marriage should be subject to the possibility of a free vote. 

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