When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced legislation into the Australian Parliament for a same-sex marriage plebiscite to be held on February 11, 2017, the nation was still divided on the merits and necessity of "an Australia-wide opinion poll".
Peninsula residents echoed the general feeling in the community that everyone had the right to marry their partner of choice and questioned the need for a poll costing $160 million. The government will also fund a "yes" and "no" campaign which will run advertisements to sway opinion.
"I think we should legalise same-sex marriage," Josh of Collaroy tells Peninsula Living.
"But my understanding is this plebiscite is going to cost a lot of money and MPs don't have to follow it. I don't think I have the right to tell someone that they are not allowed to love someone else," he explains. It's a view shared by Bruce of North Narrabeen, who also says he hasn’t got a problem with gay marriage. "The plebiscite is ridiculous - if it will ever happen," he comments.
"Perhaps they should ask people at the next election while we are at the polling booth to tick a box." Newly elected Mackeller MP Jason Falinski says it’s a complex issue but he supports the Federal Government’s decision to hold a plebiscite. "I understand it’s expensive, but the minute we say, ’Oh, but these votes are expensive,’ it leads to a very dangerous path.
“I think it's the best way for everyone to have their say. I think politicians should stay out of it and the community should decide. We should not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The Greens, the Nick Xenophon Party and the Labor Party have confirmed they may block the legislation but Malcolm Turnbull has warned them "not to stand in the way". The plebiscite question is likely to be "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?"
For North Shore Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman, the ﬁrst openly gay MP in the House of Representatives, the question is acutely personal.
“Gay men and women are currently denied the opportunity to love and be loved, to be full and ﬂourishing members of our community and to simply be themselves.
“We will not have reached the end of this journey until no person feels compelled to live a life that is not their own and until we recognise that a person‘s sexuality is not a choice or a preference - it is as innate as the colour of their skin."
"I think they should legalise it. But with the plebiscite, my understanding is it will cost a lot of money and they don't actually have to follow it. I don't think I have got right to tell someone they’re not allowed to love someone else. My cousin is in a same-sex relationship and recently had a baby with her partner. I don't see why it should bother anyone.”
KELLY, BEACON HILL
"I think it should be allowed. If people want to get married I don’t think we should be allowed to stop them. But I think the plebiscite will cost a lot of money... which could be better spent somewhere else. We are a bit behind the rest of the world and we need to catch up.”
BRUCE, NORTH NARRABEEN
“I’ve got no problem with gay marriage, it doesn’t worry me. But the plebiscite is ridiculous - if it will ever happen. They should just ask people at the next election while we're at the polling booth to tick a box while we're there anyway. Next time we vote, tick a box. We’ve all got to vote anyway."
“I think everyone should be equal in a marriage! But really, it's absolutely crazy to spend that kind of money on something that should just happen anyway. Anyone should be free to marry anyone they want and a plebiscite is a ridiculous idea."
DONNA, NORTHERN BEACHES
"I am a supporter of marriage equality. I have been brought up to look at all people as equal. I'm happy to have a plebiscite as long as this is translated into the way MPs will vote. I think the 'yes/no’ debate has the potential to be divisive and I hope people are not going to be attacked for their views.”
VERITY, DEE WHY
"If it's going to cost that much then I think the money would deﬁnitely be better spent elsewhere - it's a lot of money to spend on one area. But I think everyone has the right to get married if they want to get married.”