Marriage equality in Australia has been a contentious issue for quite a while. Last year the government was set to hold a plebiscite, or a public referendum, to decide the issue. But after political bickering from both sides, that never happened.
Because the government has refused to allow a vote on the issue of marriage equality in parliament without the “input of the Australian people,” a sort of compromise has been made. Instead of holding a mandatory plebiscite, which would have legally required all Australians to vote, the government is mailing out an optional survey to registered voters in Australia. The survey will ask a single question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
If the majority of those who respond vote “yes,” then the government has vowed to finally allow a vote on marriage equality in the Australian Parliament. If the majority of those who respond vote “no,” then the government will continue to block a legislative vote on the issue.
The latter is not very likely to occur. Multiple polls show the overwhelming majority of Australians support marriage equality for same-sex couples. Unfortunately, gay couples, as well as their straight Australian allies, have been held hostage by their government over the issue for years.
Chris Hemsworth is one of many Australians making their voice heard in support of gay rights. In an Instagram post earlier today, the Thor star urges his fellow “open minded, free speaking, laid back, life loving aussies” to vote in favor of marriage equality.
The surveys are set to be mailed to registered voters on September 12, with the results to be released on November 15.
Although a timetable is set for the survey, there is still a chance it may not go forward. Multiple groups have challenged the government’s right to take such a survey. The main points of contention are the cost ($122 million AUD) and the fact that the government chose to use the Australian Bureau of Statistics to run the survey. Those challenges will be heard by the Australian High Court in Melbourne on September 5.