Australia's High Court has ruled that the upcoming mail-in vote on same-sex marriage is legal and will go on as planned.
Two groups — members of Parliament and LGBT activists — challenged the legality of the survey, which will poll registered voters on whether they are for or against marriage equality, reports The New York Times. The voluntary mail-in ballot was the backup option after the Senate failed to approve a plebiscite — a mandatory vote by Australians on the issue.
Critics argued that by acting without parliamentary approval, the government did not lawfully appropriate funds for the survey, which will cost taxpayers about $96 million in Australian currency. Activists also worried that the vote would spark harmful antigay campaigning, which it has.
The speed of the decision was unusual for the High Court — it released its verdict Thursday, less than a day after hearings concluded, although its reasoning has not yet been released. Regardless, the court's unanimous decision means that the survey will go on as planned, coordinated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Ballots will be mailed next week to registered citizens, who will have until November 7 to vote "yes" or "no" to same-sex marriage.
Ultimately, the results of this surey are negligible, as they will not decide same-sex marriage. That fate will be determined by members of Parliament, who may or may not take the public's views into consideration when voting on the issue.
In the meantime, opponents of same-sex marriage have launched campaigns that promote harmful myths, like that gay people are pedophiles and same-sex marriage will lead to boys being forced to wear dresses in school.