Political brinkmanship looks set to delay Australian marriage equality by at least another three years

Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.

Bickering within the pro-marriage equality camp and the argument that a national plebiscite would be “a platform for bigotry” appears close to having the issue shelved for the life of this parliament.

The AFR reports:

The push for gay marriage appears doomed after the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch confirmed they would block legislation to establish a plebiscite, while a senior government minister said without a national ballot there will be no vote put to Parliament.

As a result of Monday’s decision by the NXT and Senator Hinch to join Labor and the Greens, there are now 39 Senate votes ranged against the plebiscite, which is one more than enough to block it.

The demise of the plebiscite means the issue will not be revisited for at least three years, and only if Labor wins the next election.

The only apparent way to progress now on marriage equality in Australia appears to be if opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Labor party agree to back a plebiscite, which they have been persistently arguing against on the grounds that it would subject gay and lesbian Australians to vilification.

The Greens on Friday decided they would be opposing the popular vote and today the Nick Xenophon Team and independent senator Derryn Hinch also said they would not be supporting legislation for a plebsicite.

Hinch this morning described the plebiscite as “just a bloody expensive opinion poll”. The NXT, Labor, The Greens, and Hinch all favour a free vote in parliament, while prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised a plebiscite.

Lobby group Australian Marriage Equality said today it had spoken to MPs across all political parties and urged the forging of some kind of consensus.

AME communications director Clint McGilvray told Business Insider: “AME has always advocated that marriage equality should be achieved by a vote in the parliament – but if a plebiscite is imposed upon us we have to be prepared to run a positive, inclusive and respectful national campaign.

“We are now calling on all parties to work together to achieve this long overdue straightforward reform in this parliament. The only way this can be achieved is by all political parties working together.”

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