Here's some wonderful LGBT news from the Land Down Under: finally, after several years of mounting public pressure from civil rights advocates and concerned citizens, it's looking like lawmakers in Australia will be able to vote on marriage equality. And as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, they'll be able to do it according to their own conscience and free of party pressure:
The Coalition party rooms are likely to decide on a conscience vote during the coming spring session of Parliament, with one Liberal MP saying it is now ''almost certain'' the party will dump its binding opposition to gay marriage.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose sister Christine Forster is in a same-sex relationship, promised before the election the Liberal Party room would be free to decide on a conscience vote.
The matter is expected to reach a crucial stage in the next two sitting fortnights of Parliament in August and September after senior Liberals asked crossbench Senator David Leyonhjelm to introduce his draft bill to legalise same-sex marriage.
The government wants his proposed legislation on the notice paper so that it has time to scrutinise the exact wording before deciding which way to go.
Senator Leyonhjelm has agreed, reversing his stated position when he announced the draft bill last month... But he said he wasn't ''counting my chickens'' on a vote for same-sex marriage on the floor of Parliament and a number of backbenchers said their ''gut feeling'' was that it would be narrowly defeated even with a conscience vote.
One thing's for sure, though: if Australian lawmakers were to listen to the voices of their constituents, the measure would pass overwhelmingly. The latest polling shows that a whopping 72 percent of Aussies support the freedom to marry, an approval rating that's reportedly higher than it was in any other country where marriage equality has been approved.
Here's hoping that the members of Australia's parliament obey the will of the people and vote to make theirs the next country that allows all loving and committed couples, regardless of sexual orientation, the freedom to marry. After all, as Australian LGBT advocates have been reminding us all for years, it's time.