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Australians Should Not Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull

Here's why a bill that would let citizens vote on marriage equality is a bad idea.

dnlreynolds

Australia's Parliament is considering a bill that would allow its citizens to vote on same-sex marriage. The country's prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is urging lawmakers to pass it. However, the legislation may not be the right road to take for LGBT equality.

For multiple reasons, gay activists have been critical of the plebiscite -- the national ballot. First, the process would be costly. The New York Times estimates that holding a vote on the measure could cost up to $138 million, which includes the price of campaigning for either "yes" or "no" on the marriage outcome.

Moreover, the "no" campaign would invariably include antigay messaging. This may inflict taxpayer-funded emotional harm on LGBT young people. Addressing Parliament, the Labor Party's leader, Bill Shorten, called the vote a "platform for prejudice and a megaphone for hate speech." He worried it might cost lives, as the messaging may lead to an increased rate of teen suicide.

In addition, the vote is nonbinding. This means that even if the bill becomes law and the vote occurs, Australia's Parliament is still under no obligation to change marriage laws.

It's also important to consider the fairness of putting social progress of marginalized communities in the hands of the society that marginalizes them. While Ireland did successfully hold a public vote in which marriage equality won the day, such an outcome is not guaranteed.

Dean Smith, an out gay senator, said he would either abstain from voting on the plebiscite or vote against it. Even though he is a member of the prime minister's party, he maintained the right to marry be should determined by lawmakers.

With these factors in mind, he's right. Since the vote is nonbinding, Australia's lawmakers should save their nation both time and money and vote on the issue in Parliament.

dnlreynolds
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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.