Liberal MP Jason Wood says he’d vote for marriage equality

Liberal MP Jason Wood has told The Guardian that he’d vote in favour of marriage equality if his colleagues manage to get a private member’s bill up.

Wood said that while the proposed plebiscite had been the way of dealing with the issue, if a debate commenced on the floor of parliament, he believed Liberal MPs should be allowed a conscience vote on the issue.

The member for LaTrobe in Victoria said he was not alone in his belief, and many members of the Liberal party would expect a free vote.

“I have no doubt that a number of other members will look at this as an open debate – I think that would be the view of a number of members,” Wood said.

Today Queensland MP Trevor Evans hinted that he may cross the floor to vote in favour of a private members bill on marriage equality. It has been suggested that several Liberal MPs are prepared to take a stand on the issue.

Speaking on SKY News earlier today Victorian Tim Wilson repeated his belief that he had discharged his responsibilities in relation to the plebiscite.

Wood’s declaration that he would expect a free vote if a private members bill was put forward shows that the support for marriage equality extends beyond LGBTI politicians and long-term supporters.

Western Australian Senator Dean Smith is working on a private members bill for marriage equality and has revealed that he hopes to introduce it during the next parliamentary session.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is visiting Perth this week, was asked by journalists if he could stop MPs crossing the floor, something which he immediately ruled out.

“In our party, backbenchers have always had the right to cross the floor,” the PM responded.

“In the Labor party, you get expelled for doing that. It’s always been a fundamental principle in the Liberal party and indeed, the National party. So it’s a very different political culture to the very authoritarian Labor party.”

The Australian Christian Lobby, the leading group opposing marriage equality in Australia, have expressed their disappointment that some MPs are considering abandoning the promised plebiscite.

“Trust is the virtue a parliamentarian should cherish the most,” Executive Director Shelton said in a statement.

“It is disappointing that so many Liberals do not seem to respect the people who elected them.

“This is making the party less attractive to the growing number of Australians who are concerned about the consequences of a change to the definition of marriage in law.”

Singling out Trevor Evans, Trent Zimmerman, Warren Entsch, Tim Wilson, Dean Smith and Christopher Pyne, the Australian Christian Lobby criticised the politicians for ‘casting doubt on the party’s ability to keep promises’.

The push for a free vote has been welcomed by marriage equality advocates at just.equal.

Spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh said it is time for other Liberal MPs to “step up” and show their support.

“I applaud those Liberals who say they will push for a free vote on marriage equality when Parliament returns next week and who want to ditch the wasteful, divisive and unnecessary public vote.”

“It’s time for other Liberals who support marriage equality to step up and advocate for a free vote as well.”

“Polls show the Government could lose office if it fails to enact marriage equality before the next election so every marriage equality supporter in Government ranks has a stake in making sure the reform happens ASAP.”

OIP Staff

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