Hume MP Angus Taylor says he’ll respect the majority view of Australians on the Marriage Equality plebiscite come time for a parliamentary vote.
But he’ll personally be voting no on the same sex marriage poll which hit mailboxes last week.
“I’ve made no secret that I have deep concerns about protections for freedom of speech, religion and choice and my personal vote will be guided by that,” Mr Taylor said.
“...The good news is that this is not about my vote but how the people of Hume and Australia vote and I’’ll respect that.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is overseeing the plebiscite, will break down results by electorates. But Mr Taylor said even if the majority in Hume voted no but the nation overall favoured same sex-marriage, he would vote yes on the floor of parliament.
In this, he told The Post, he was on the same page as many of his colleagues, including Tony Abbott who was campaigning against marriage equality.
“The colleagues I’ve spoken to who will be voting no have all said they’d respect the outcome regardless of their personal views. That cannot be said of the Labor Party and frankly, that asymmetry is a very serious problem and it’s very disappointing that Bill Shorten and the Labor party don’t respect the views of the Australian people,” Mr Taylor said.
He rejected suggestions the $122 million plebiscite was a waste of money, saying it was necessary for what could be a fundamental change in Australian law. My Taylor said it could not be likened to other issues politicians were asked to decide and warranted individual input in the same way the Republican referendum did.
“Most people have a view based on all sorts of things and I don’t perceive that mine should have any more weight than anyone else’s,” Mr Taylor said.
He told The Post that for this reason he hadn’t “shouted his opinion from the rooftops.”
But he said it was “disingenuous” to suggest that such a major change in marriage law wouldn’t have consequences.
“(That view) is simply wrong and we’ve seen those consequences in other countries,” Mr Taylor said.
He argued that if the Marriage Act were changed there must be strong protections for people of faith, whether christian or other, allowing them to live their lives as others did.
“That should be without fear of retribution for their views and I feel very strongly about that. It is persuading my personal vote that we make sure those protections are in place,” he said.
Mr Taylor argued freedom of speech, religion and parental choice were essential. He cited cases before the US and UK Supreme Courts in which amendments to the marriage act had impinged on these freedoms.
In London and Ontario schools, parents had been prohibited from controlling their children’s sex education. In the US and UK, activists were challenging christian cake sellers not wanting to endorse religious beliefs.
The MP said he had not had recent representation from people about his views but previously, Hume for Marriage Equality had met with him. Nor did he think it was the number one issue on people’s minds.
“While it’s very important for some people, the vast majority of my constituents are concerned about jobs, electricity prices, infrastructure, the future of their children and this country. It does not rate highly for most,” Mr Taylor said.
“There are some for whom it’s very important and I recognise that but it’s never had the focus in the electorate that it’s had in the media.”
Meantime, Hume for Marriage Equality held a rally in Belmore Park on Saturday. Member Tom Sebo said some 30 people attended, bearing placards in support of a yes vote. Speakers included Warren Smith, Shelby Marks, Jason Shepherd (Goulburn Labor) and Michelle Thomas. Local musician Keith Binns performed a song about marriage equality and love.
“Considering how poor the weather was, it was a great turnout. It was also encouraging to see a few families there,” Mr Sebo said.