The majority voted against a motion to read the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 for a second time. This means that the majority of members reject the main idea of the bill, which was to recognise same-sex marriages.
This means that the bill will not considered any further.
Debate in Parliament
The bill was introduced by Labor Party MP Stephen Jones as a private member’s bill.
Jones MP said that he was guided by the fact that “a majority of Australians are in favour of the changes contained within this bill” as well as “the human right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of sexuality”.(Read Jones MP's contribution here. ) He explained that in 2011 the Australian Labour Party changed its policy to allow its members to make a conscience vote on any legislation that legalised same-sex marriage, which is what occurred in this case.(Read Jones MP's explanation here. )
As the Labor Party called for a conscience vote on this issue, Labor members were split for and against the bill with the majority voting in favour.
Although the Liberal Party did not explicitly allow its members a conscience vote, the Liberal Party’s Luke Simpkins MP said that a conscience vote was “always” an option for Liberal members.(Read Simpkins MP's contribution here. ) However, the Liberal Party still uniformly voted against the bill.
Several members who opposed the bill argued that the current marriage law is not discriminatory. For example, the Liberal Party’s Stuart Robert MP referred to family law expert Professor Patrick Parkinson’s submission to the Senate inquiry into marriage equality that “functional equality has already been achieved” in Australian law for registered same-sex unions.(Read Robert MP's contribution here. )
Background to the Bill
The Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 was introduced into the House of Representatives on the same day as the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012, which was co-sponsored by the Greens Party MP Adam Bandt and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie. There was also a similar bill being considered in the Senate, called the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010, which had been introduced by Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Despite containing different language and writing styles, all three bills aimed to allow people to marry regardless of sex.(Read more about these three bills in the bills digest.)