Liberal MP Trevor Evans might cross the floor for marriage equality

Queensland MP Trevor Evans has hinted that he may cross the floor to support marriage equality.

The declaration from the Liberal backbencher that he believes his party should dump the plebiscite and allow a free vote in parliament, adds another voice to the growing number of government MPs publicly declaring their belief that the marriage equality issue should be settled as soon as possible.

Speaking to The Australian the member for Brisbane said he would not rule out crossing the floor to support a motion to suspend standing orders and bring on a free vote on a marriage equality bill in the house.

Western Australian Senator Dean Smith is currently working on a bill for marriage equality and has declared he hopes the issue can be settled before the end of the year.

The first term politician said the issue needed to be resolved and they government should abandon it’s promised plebiscite.

“There is a still a number of ways to achieve reform,’’ Evans told The Australian. “But I think the quickest and most likely course now is to allow politicians to have a free vote … and I support that.”

While Evans wouldn’t confirm that he’s considering crossing the floor, neither would he rule it out. Telling the newspaper that he didn’t believe it was useful to talk about hypothetical scenarios.

Evans is not alone in his belief that a free vote is the way forward. It has been suggested that marriage equality supporter Warren Enstch and gay politicians Trent Zimmerman and Tim Wilson could also be considering taking action on the issue.

The combination of several backbenchers willing to cross the floor could give the Labor party enough votes to force the issue.

Right wing members of the coalition have put forward their own plan for dealing with marriage equality suggesting a non-binding postal plebiscite. The proposal would allow the government to maintain its election promise of a public vote, without the substantial costs of a ballot box exercise.

The idea has been widely criticised by marriage equality advocates but has found support among groups opposed to allowing same-sex couples the right to marry.

The marriage equality issue looks likely to come to  ahead when the opposing sides of the coalition hold their first party room meeting on August 8th when parliament returns from its winter recess.

The Equality campaign welcomed the move from the Liberal members. Co-Chair Alex Greenwich said it was time the issue was resolved.

“The growing number of voices for a parliamentary vote on marriage equality in the Coalition shows it’s now time for the government to deliver this straightforward reform so we call move forward,” Greenwich said.

“We thank Brisbane MP Trevor Evans and Senator Dean Smith and all the parliamentary supporters of marriage equality for their commitment to fairness, equality and resolving this issue in the parliament.

“Thanks to the recent senate inquiry, the legislative path to reform is clear and the political will is growing to pass a bill that will allow same-sex couples access to civil marriage, while protecting the religious celebration of marriage,” Greenwich said.

OIP Staff. Update: 31-07-17 8:15 Comment from Alex Greenwich added to the report. 


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