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Australian Parliamentarians Denied Free Vote on Same Sex Marriage Law

Categories: Oceania, Australia, Human Rights, LGBTQ+, Politics, Women & Gender
Marriage Equality Rally unites Equal Love in Melbourne City [1]

Melbourne Marriage Equality rally – Photo Paul Fry copyright © Demotix (25 July 2015)

Social media erupted on 11 August 2015 as Australia waited for its government's political parties to decide if they would give their parliamentarians a free vote on a bill to legalise same sex marriage. The online temperature rose considerably when the decision went against those pushing for change.

The Twitter hashtag #marriageequality [2] had many thousands of tweets during the afternoon and evening. Prime Minister Tony Abbott was the central figure and main target. He chose not to take the matter first to his cabinet which is split 50/50 on the issue. Nor did the PM allow his own Liberal party room to decide. He blindsided [3] his opponents by referring it to the joint Coalition party room. This includes the National Party, which has a predominantly conservative, rural base. Ultimately, the vote was 66 to 33 to uphold the current policy.

Many tweeters were still trying to influence their members of parliament beforehand.
Melissa B. provided a link to a website where the public can find out where their local MP stands.

MPs were greeted by a rainbow and #wecandothis [8] hashtag installation at Canberra airport as they returned after the winter break.

Jack Crow used strong appeals to religious belief in many of his tweets:

There was even some humour:

Sally Rugg seemed to have some hope, mixed with a warning:

There was plenty of time for reflection as the party room debate took six hours. When news broke, actor Dan Ewing spoke for many:

These views typified the overwhelming negative response:

This very personal issue became even more so with the reminder that the Prime Minister's lesbian sister supports same sex marriage:

Tara Vern shared her cynicism born of experience:

Many others were equally scornful of Abbott's suggestion of a plebiscite somewhere down the track:

An interesting sideshow was the popularity of the misspelt hashtag #marriageequaility [39]. Even professionals were not immune:

Richard was just one of many in the mainstream media to fall into this trap:

Hopefully, they won't make the same error when marriage equality next trends in Australia as it will inevitably do.

[Thumbnail photo by Michael Miller copyright © Demotix (10 August 2015)]