Government - High Court Green Lights Same Sex Marriage Survey
The High Court in Melbourne threw out a legal bid to scrap the government's AU$122 Million same-sex marriage postal survey, clearing the way for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to send voting forms to 16 million Australians.
This means the Bureau of Statistics will start mailing out survey forms from 12 September and the chief statistician will declare the result announced on at 11:30am on 15 November 2017. The paper will ask, "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?"
"This is a great example where every Australian can have a say and we can, as a Commonwealth of Australia, embrace this important social change, consider it and make a decision," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told parliament after the decision came down. He said he plans to vote yes and to urge others to do so, but he would not join Labor leader Bill Shorten in a joint statement urging a yes vote.
The seven high court judges unanimously rejected two separate challenges accusing the government in acting inappropriately in allocating $122 Million to the ABS to conduct the vote. One group of plaintiffs included Andrew Wilkie, PFLAG, and Felicity Marlowe of Melbourne; the other case was brought by Senator Janet Rice and Australian Marriage Equality. They attacked the postal survey for being outside the scope of statistics collected by the ABS, and insisted it was wrong to ask people to sign up to the electoral roll for the vote because the issue could not be considered an electoral matter.
With this part of the story settled, campaigners will now focus on the task at hand: Winning the survey. They hope that two months of negativity from the anti-marriage equality side will not traumatize impressionable youth.
"The strongest impact will be on LGBTI kids and kids of LGBTI people who will now have to endure eight weeks of campaigning against this," said Jacqui Tomlins of Rainbow Families. "We need Australians to support us and play a significant part in supporting us by being our allies and returning a yes vote."