Malcolm Turnbull Could Have Australia on the Verge of National Same-Sex Marriage


Less than 24 hours after Australia's new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was sworn into office, he announced the matter of same-sex marriage would be decided by a national vote. 

Almost immediately after assuming his new role, Turnbull conducted question time in parliament and addressed the matter head-on. "There is no greater virtue in a free vote here or a plebiscite, they are each means of resolving the matter ... It is a very legitimate and democratic way of dealing with it," he said, ABC reports.

With 72% of Australians in support of same-sex marriage, it looks likely the proposed reform will pass. However, when, exactly, the vote will be held remains to be decided

"If Australia is going down the path of a plebiscite, we want it sooner rather than later, preferably at the election so whichever party wins government has a mandate to act on those reforms," Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome told the Australian Associated Press.

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Turnbull became leader of the ruling Liberal Party late Monday night after he orchestrated, with the help of other party members, a dramatic political stratagem to oust former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Abbott is against same-sex marriage, despite having a gay sister who's been campaigning for her legal right to marry her partner.

The staunchly Catholic Abbott said in August, "we support the traditional position that marriage is between a man and a woman," according the Herald Sun. He avoided dealing with the matter directly by alternating between a parliamentary and national vote, neither of which he enacted.

Global momentum in 2015 has seen major countries like the United States legalize same-sex marriage, after a historic Supreme Court ruling on June 26. Ireland also introduced marriage equality when the majority of the country voted in favor of it during a referendum on the matter in May. If Australia's public opinion polls are anything to go by, it looks likely they'll also be joining the club soon.