June 19, 2012
By Jacob Combs
A new independent poll out in Maine this week shows a remarkable margin of support for a proposed ballot question that would bring marriage equality back to the state, with 55 percent of respondents saying they favor the law and only 36 percent opposed. Significantly, the wording of the poll question mirrored that of the ballot question marriage equality advocates submitted to the Secretary of State, which asked voters if they wanted to offer marriages to gay and lesbian couples while affirming that religious institutions would not be required to preside over marriages counter to their beliefs. Charlie Summers, the Republican Secretary of State and an opponent of marriage equality, released an alternate wording of the measure this week which did not include language about religious protections.
Following the election of Socialist candidate Francois Hollande earlier this month, France’s Socialist Party won a commanding parliamentary majority in another election over the weekend, giving them 314 of Parliament’s 577 seats. This is excellent news for marriage equality in the country, since Hollande ran on a platform that included equal marriage rights for gay couples and should have no problem getting legislation passed in the legislature. According to a communique released by the office of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayraultr, the legislation has already been drafted and should move forward quickly.
And finally, Australia’s ruling Labor party is attempting to bring marriage equality to a parliamentary vote in the next few months, most likely in August. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation will likely fail, even though the Labor party changed its platform last year to include marriage equality. In a parliamentary system, members of parliament (MPs) are bound to vote along party lines unless their leader specifically allows what’s called a conscience vote, in which each member can vote according to his or her opinion. Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, an opponent of marriage equality, insisted that Labor MPs be allowed a conscience vote on marriage (meaning there will be fewer votes in support than there would be if the party voted as a bloc). Opposition leader Tony Abbott, on the other hand, has not allowed his MPs a conscience vote, meaning they will all be bound to vote against the legislation. Another marriage equality bill, sponsored by the Greens party’s Adam Bandt, could be considered at a later date.