The MP, and the Senator, threatening to cross the floor rather than vote for marriage equality

In the lead-up to this year’s ALP National Conference, and the debate about whether to adopt a binding vote in favour of marriage equality, expect to hear a lot about the supposed ‘significant’ minority of ALP MPs and Senators who would be willing to cross the floor – and therefore be expelled from the party – rather than vote for the full equality of LGBTI relationships.

Indeed, the same The Saturday Paper article in which the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP and Senator the Hon Penny Wong confirmed their support for a binding vote, included the following statement: “[o]ne senior Labor figure estimates up to six senators would abstain or cross the floor in parliament rather than voting for same-sex marriage if the party chose to enforce its official policy” (<http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2015/03/28/pressure-builds-same-sex-marriage-libs-and-alp/14274612001683#.VR234boxGX0 ).

Which is somewhat academic, irrelevant even, if those MPs and Senators aren’t willing to put their names to this sentiment. And, as far as I can tell, there have been only two current ALP parliamentarians who have publicly declared they would cross the floor rather than support marriage equality:

I have written the below letters to both Mr Hayes and Senator Bullock asking whether they would now abide by a decision of this year’s ALP National Conference to support a binding vote and, if not, whether they would do the honourable thing and resign. I will post any response from each that I receive.

As for the other MPs and Senators – who apparently threaten to cross the floor, but only do so behind closed doors, and who will not identify themselves to ordinary ALP members – then I suggest we ignore them, and their idle threats (or, to put it more accurately, their blackmail attempts), in the same way that they are more than comfortable in ignoring our right to full equality, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

Finally, if you know of any other MPs or Senators who have made public threats to cross the floor against marriage equality, please let me know in the comments section below (including a link to any public record, if possible). Thanks.

Mr Chris Hayes MP

Member for Fowler

PO Box 6022

House of Representatives

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

Chris.Hayes.MP@aph.gov.au

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Dear Mr Hayes

Would you abide by an ALP National Conference resolution to adopt a binding vote in favour of marriage equality?

I am writing to you about marriage equality, and specifically the issue of a binding vote within the Australian Labor Party, which is expected to be debated at this year’s National Conference in Melbourne from July 24-26.

Specifically, would you abide by a decision of the ALP’s supreme policy-making body to agree to a binding vote in favour of marriage equality?

I ask you this because it was reported, in the Sydney Morning Herald prior to the 2011 National Conference, that you would ‘never vote for gay marriage, even if party policy dictated it’.

I also ask the question sincerely, especially given many others, from US President Barack Obama to NSW Labor Opposition Leader Luke Foley, have seen their positions on marriage equality ‘evolve’ during the past three and a half years.

Perhaps, even if your personal view of marriage equality may not have changed since 2011, you might be more inclined to accept the democratic decision of delegates to ALP National Conference this year.

However, if your views have not changed, and you remain committed to breaking party solidarity and crossing the floor contrary to any potential resolution to bind in favour of marriage equality, then I ask: in that event, would you resign?

I believe that, if you genuinely believed that you could no longer remain a part of the collectivist organisation of which you enjoy the privilege of being a parliamentary member, resigning would be the honourable course of action.

I also believe that, given you have made public remarks indicating your intention to cross the floor (albeit prior to the last Conference), you owe it to the members of the Australian Labor Party to clarify what actions you would take if this year’s National Conference did agree to a binding vote for full lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex equality.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this correspondence.

Sincerely

Alastair Lawrie

The Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes MP

The Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes MP

Senator Joe Bullock

PO Box 6100

Senate

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

senator.bullock@aph.gov.au

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Dear Senator Bullock

Would you abide by an ALP National Conference resolution to adopt a binding vote in favour of marriage equality?

I am writing to you about marriage equality, and specifically the issue of a binding vote within the Australian Labor Party, which is expected to be debated at this year’s National Conference in Melbourne from July 24-26.

Specifically, would you abide by a decision of the ALP’s supreme policy-making body to agree to a binding vote in favour of marriage equality?

I ask you this because last year it was reported in The Australian that, prior to your election to the Senate, you said, “[i]f the party decides it [marriage equality] is not a conscience vote and expels me, so be it.”

I also ask the question sincerely, because, even in the space of 12 months, it is possible for people’s views on this topic to ‘evolve’. It is also possible that, now you have performed the role of Senator for more than nine months, you may have a different view of your responsibilities towards the party of which you are a parliamentary member.

However, if your views have not changed since making those comments, and you remain committed to breaking party solidarity and crossing the floor contrary to any potential resolution to bind in favour of marriage equality, then I ask: in that event, would you resign?

I believe that, if you genuinely believed that you could no longer remain a part of the collectivist organisation of which you enjoy the privilege of being a parliamentary member, resigning would be the honourable course of action.

I also believe that, given you have made public remarks indicating your intention to cross the floor, you owe it to the members of the Australian Labor Party to clarify what actions you would take if this year’s National Conference did agree to a binding vote for full lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex equality.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this correspondence.

Sincerely

Alastair Lawrie

Western Australian Senator Joe Bullock

Western Australian Senator Joe Bullock

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