Coalition Ignores Millions Of Emails Calling For Marriage Equality
Issue not raised in party room meeting, despite pressure from marriage equality advocates.
The federal Coalition party room did not discuss a free vote on marriage equality in a Tuesday morning meeting, despite a concerted email campaign from both sides of the debate.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) and the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) encouraged their supporters to email MPs in anticipation of an expected Senate debate this week on a marriage equality bill.
The bill, put forward by Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, is not expected to pass, or even go to a vote.
However, prior to the 2013 election, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Coalition party room would decide whether there is a free vote on marriage equality if a bill was presented.
Leyonjhelm announced the second reading of his Freedom to Marry bill last week, giving Mr Abbott an opportunity to deliver on this promise.
On Tuesday morning, over 1.7 million emails advocating a free vote on marriage equality and over 2 million emails urging the government to "hold the line" on marriage had been sent.
Despite the electronic deluge, the Coalition party room were not swayed, and did not discuss the issue as marriage equality advocates had hoped.
Some of the emails calling for marriage equality, supplied to BuzzFeed News by AME, carried personal slants on the issue.
"I find it hard to understand why our laws recognise us as the loving parents we are, but will not allow our children to feel equal by allowing their parents to marry in the same way as their friends parents," wrote one NSW mother.
"In a secular society there is no longer any justification to discriminate against same sex couples. Australia has fallen behind the times and it is your responsibility to see us lead on issues such as these," another person wrote.
AME also provided a standard form letter for MPs, arguing that a free vote would actually win support for the Liberal and National parties.
"According to Crosby/Textor polling conducted this year, 83% of Australians, including a majority of those opposed to marriage equality, support a Coalition free vote," it reads.
The letter also cites prominent Coalition members who support a free vote, including Treasurer Joe Hockey, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Mike Baird.
The Australian Christian Lobby also provided a standard form letter for supporters, saying "Marriage is the cornerstone of a strong, sustainable and healthy society."
"It builds strong communities, forms good citizens, and brings parents together for the nurture of their children. The next 7 days will be a crucial time for the future of marriage," the letter reads.
"Australia must do all in its power to ensure that every child can know and be loved by their biological mum and dad wherever possible. Tragic circumstances often mean that kids miss out on their mum or their dad. This should not be forced because of legislation."
By Tuesday morning, AME had also released a new video promoting marriage equality. In the video, titled I Mean, It's 2015, supporters lament that "nothing has been done" and say "the politicians are so far behind".
Current numbers on the AME website suggest there is not sufficient support in the federal parliament to pass a marriage equality bill.
However, a bill would be more likely to pass the Senate than the House of Representatives.
31 senators out of a needed 39 have confirmed their support for marriage equality, whereas only 48 MPs out of a needed 90 have done the same in the House of Representatives.