Australia to hold postal vote to decide on same-sex marriage law

The process will be outlined in more detail on Tuesday at the Coalition party meeting.

In July, a government senator said he was drafting a private member's bill aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage, but Turnbull said he would not allow the bill to be voted on. But the Senate would not allow the so-called plebiscite, which would have cost 160 million Australian dollars ($127 million), and the result could have been ignored by lawmakers when deciding how to vote on gay marriage legislation in Parliament.

"Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull never liked the plebiscite policy but fully grasps the importance of keeping commitments and, to his credit, is now resolute that nothing can change without a plebiscite first".

Late a year ago, the upper house Senate rejected a government proposal on the matter, with opponents saying they believed it was best dealt with by a free vote in parliament. The plebiscite legislation would go back into the Senate this week.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that marriage equality is no closer than it was yesterday. A plebiscite, if passed, would see all Australians vote on the issue.

Cormann said the government was confident it had a legal and constitutional way to have a postal vote - without Senate approval.

Senior Government members have been talking down the prospects of a private member's Bill, arguing the coalition promised no change would be made without Australian voters having their say.

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Among the options being considered by Monday's meeting of Liberal politicians are a free parliamentary vote, another attempt at a national plebiscite or even a voluntary postal vote, according to The Conversation's political analyst Michelle Grattan.

Marriage equality advocate and state Independent MP Alex Greenwich says the postal plebiscite proposal is a 'bloody stupid idea'.

Those critical of a postal vote rather than continuing to just persist with the plebiscite included Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews, Craig Kelly, Julian Leeser and Russell Broadbent.

"What we might do about same-sex marriage beyond this term of parliament is the outstanding question".

"I don't know Tory's circumstance, but I came to the conclusion had Tory and his partner been wanting to get married, or been waiting to get married. and then his life was taken in such a tragic way, that moved me and it reinforced my resolve", Smith said.

But Anne Twomey from the Sydney University Law School believes this could do this could be done legally by a regulation under the Financial Framework (Supplementary Powers) Act - although the regulation could be disallowed by the Senate.

Australia's leading marriage equality advocacy group, The Equality Campaign, said it was very disappointed with the decision. "We'll just get on with it and get it done".

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