1 Aug 2017

    Meet The Four Men Who Might Be About To Deliver Marriage Equality To Australia

    The four men who DGAF and could guarantee marriage equality by the end of August.

    Tim, Trevor, Warren and Trent are four people you're going to hear A LOT about in the next few weeks, as there'll be another crack at legalising marriage equality in Australia.

    AAP Images

    They are the four blokes the media has dubbed the "marriage rebels" for their recent push to bring on a free vote on marriage equality which could come to a head as early as next Tuesday.

    There has been widespread speculation that if the Coalition party room sticks to the government's failed plebiscite policy, Tim Wilson, Trevor Evans and Trent Zimmerman - proudly gay men - could join with Warren Entsch, Labor and crossbenchers to trigger a marriage equality vote on the floor of the parliament.

    If that extraordinary event was to occur, the men would risk damaging their political standing within the party in an effort to pass marriage equality by the end of this month.

    (Quick note: Another crucial player in the "ambush" would be senator Dean Smith. But because Smith is in the Senate, he wouldn't be part of a dramatic move in the lower house. You can listen to our podcast interview with senator Smith about marriage equality here.)

    So who are the rebels?

    Well let's start with Trevor Evans, the 35-year-old Liberal MP for the capital city seat of Brisbane, Queensland.

    Dan Peled / AAPIMAGE

    Evans has an honours degree in economics and previously served as the high-profile CEO of the National Retail Association, the peak industry group for shops and stores around the country.

    In 2010 Evans worked as the chief of staff to fellow Queenslander Peter Dutton.

    Last year, Evans delivered his maiden speech to parliament, thanking "my partner, Roger, my best friend and source of unconditional understanding: your smile would shine through any darkness. I love you."

    Evans was also the lead media instigator of the rebellious push this week, appearing in The Australian, on ABC radio and on ABC's Lateline on Monday to talk about the need for a free vote.

    “There are a number of possible ways forward from here, and I’m not necessarily set on any one of them; I think it’s a case of getting on, getting this issue resolved so we can refocus on the other priorities in the government’s agenda," Evans told Radio National.

    It didn't take long for Evans to be threatened, with one anonymous "senior Right MP" telling The Daily Telegraph that moderate Liberal Evans will be disendorsed at the next election if he persists on this mission.

    Then there's Tim Wilson, another rookie MP, who has been floating around political circles for years, including a stint as Australian Human Rights Commissioner.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    Wilson is the 37-year-old Liberal MP for the Victorian seat of Goldstein. He won a pre-selection battle for the prized blue-ribbon seat after Andrew Robb retired.

    He was also the policy director of the right wing think tank The IPA, and was known to send a tweet or two that got people pretty mad.

    Walked past Occupy Melbourne protest, all people who think freedom of speech = freedom 2 b heard, time wasters ... send in the water cannons

    Last year Wilson broke down in tears during his maiden speech, talking about his fiance Ryan: "For seven years a ring has sat on both of our left hands, and they are the answer to a question we still cannot ask."

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    A quick, much funner fact: Wilson owns pugs Louis and Ella with his fiance, who appear to be named after Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

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    In the wake of the plebiscite's legislative failure, Wilson has called for the government to resolve the issue in the parliament.

    Despite Wilson being at the start of his parliamentary career, he's already managed to attract threats to his career from anonymous Liberals via the media.

    I said I’d consult on marriage. This AM spoke at Star of the Sea College Brighton & asked if it should be resolved.… https://t.co/gtRaVZlJcc

    On Tuesday, the MP sent a statement to Sky News, part of which read: "Outsiders may not appreciate how open and honest I was during my preselection and election on this issue, including my views on the plebiscite and belief in a change in the law."

    We've also got Warren Entsch, the long-serving Queensland MP who's spent years advocating for the parliament to vote for marriage equality.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    The 67-year-old is a former aircraft engine fitter and crocodile catcher (for real, that's listed in his "Qualifications" before entering parliament) who was elected in 1996.

    He's been elected seven times by the people in his Queensland seat of Leichhardt and, two years ago, joined with crossbenchers to present a marriage equality bill to parliament.

    “A divided nation is what we will be if we continue to allow discrimination in relation to marriage on the basis of a person’s sexuality,” Entsch said at the time, presenting the bill which ultimately was never put up for a vote by the government.

    Entsch is also known a prolific hugger in parliament.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    He bloody loves it.

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    Like, I'm not kidding, Entsch loves hugging people.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    Finally, North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman, who replaced retiring treasurer Joe Hockey, is the final member of the "marriage rebels".

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    Zimmerman is known as a "faceless man" of the Liberal Party, serving in senior roles in the NSW Liberal Party for decades, including a recent stint as president of the party.

    The 48-year-old has also been an adviser to Joe Hockey and former senator Robert Hill. Also, public service announcement, Zimmerman is listed as "single" on his official MP profile.

    The MP used his maiden speech last year to talk about his sexuality and marriage equality.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    "Our laws still deny access to marriage – our society's ultimate expression of love and commitment," Zimmerman said. "Young gay men and women are more likely to suffer depression and other mental health issues; they are more likely to be bullied at school.

    "More are likely to attempt to take their own lives and tragically some will succeed.

    "Coming out remains hard for many people – and believe me, I know what that's like."

    Zimmerman also marched in the Sydney Mardi Gras last year and gave Labor leader Bill Shorten a big ol' hug.


    Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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