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Photo via Facebook/Australian Marriage Equality
Australia's progress on same-sex marriage has been marked by starts and stops. However, in the the wake of Ireland's historic vote, the prospect of the country legalizing marriage equality is increasingly becoming a reality.
Leader of the Opposition and leador of the Labour party Bill Shorten became the first major political figure to announce support, and he will be introducing a bill to the nation's parliament on Monday. Earlier today, thousands rallied in Sydney calling for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow a free vote on the issue, rather than demanding Members of Parliament stick to party lines.
Abbott, leader of the Liberal party, received criticsm abroad for his opposition to same-sex marriage (he's also constantly ridiculed for his repeated denial of climate change). Since 2012, Abbott has refused to allow a free vote on the issue, keeping his ruling Liberal party from voting.
But he's under mounting pressure from parliament, Australians, and even within his own family—his sister, Christine Forster, who is engaged to a woman, was a keynote speaker at today's rally.
According to Rodney Croome of Australian Marriage Equality:
"MPs and Senators are falling over themselves to declare their support' as Ireland's recent successful referendum has proven to be the 'tipping point.'"
"Its reputation as (being) socially conservative makes Australia look backward. Its adoption of marriage equality leaves Australia as the only developed, English-speaking country that doesn’t allow same-sex couples to marry."
Activists agree that bipartisan support is needed to pass the bill. Both the Labour and Green parties, and a few Liberals, have come out in support of marriage equality.
(H/T Gay Star News)