Roadblock for the same-sex marriage plebiscite

The Senate is almost certain to block the same-sex marriage plebiscite. Senator Nick Xenophon’s team holds the key votes now that the Greens have vowed to oppose it. Senator Nick Xenophon has protagonists from both sides still taking to him but tells Eternity he is leaning towards voting against the plebiscite’s enabling legislation. A combination of Labor, Greens, the Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch is enough to block the plebiscite in the Senate.

“Labor will vote no the first time around,” one experienced Coalition Senate hand tells Eternity. Emphasis on the word “first”. That is because the path gets complicated after a Senate “no” vote. Senator Xenophon’s colleague Stirling Griff told The Australian that the party supports a free vote on same-sex marriage in the parliament. “Of course if that isn’t permitted, we will discuss options with the LGBTI community.” So while both Labor and Xenophon will vote to block the plebiscite – at least the first time around – they may be open to discussion about how they should vote should it come back to the Senate for a second time.

If the lower house votes in favour of the plebiscite then the pressure will be on Labor, or possibly Xenophon, to accept the plebiscite as the quicker path to laws favouring same-sex marriage – and change their vote.

The alternative (if the Coalition remains resolute in the House of Representatives), is at least a three year wait for same-sex marriage in Australia.

According to a source that Eternity has spoken to, there is another possible outcome. Warren Entsch, the National Party member who has championed same-sex marriage, might cross the floor. Or one or more of the newly-elected gay members of the Coalition, Trevor Evans (Qld), Trent Zimmerman (NSW) or Tim Wilson (Vic) might deliver the vote or votes required.