Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed on Friday that no Coalition MP, not even members of cabinet, will be bound to vote in favour of marriage equality if a "yes" vote is delivered in the government's proposed plebiscite.
But since then, there has been much speculation on how Turnbull can be so sure – given many Coalition MPs continue to oppose marriage equality. And all sorts of answers have been offered about how these opponents will deal with a "yes" vote in the plebiscite.
Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce explicitly pledged to vote along with the wishes of the Australian people.
However, other senior ministers have walked a more ambiguous line.
Meanwhile, senator Zed Seselja said he would likely abstain in the event of a "yes" vote.
Other MPs have said they will vote in accordance with their electorate, but not with a national vote.
Nationals MP David Gillespie, the member for Lyne, told Fairfax Media he would "respect the views of his electorate".
Hard-right social conservatives Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi have previously implied they would vote against same-sex marriage regardless of the plebiscite outcome.
Asked exactly what MPs mean when they say they will "respect the outcome," a spokesperson for the Coalition said the outcome would be respected.
"If the majority of Australians vote ‘yes’ in the plebiscite, their decision will be respected by the Government and the Parliament and same-sex marriage will be legalised in Australia," they said.
"The government is confident the Australian people will conduct themselves in a respectful and dignified manner during the debate."
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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