Almost every poll in the past decade has shown a majority of Australians support same-sex marriage.
The latest Newspoll survey, released on August 22, said 63% of Australians were in favor of legalizing marriage between two men or two women. Just 30% said they were opposed, with the rest undecided.
Overall, about four-fifths of Australians are accepting of homosexuality in general, Pew Research data published in 2013 reveals, one of the highest numbers in the world.
Gay rights in Australia haven’t always been fast to arrive — homosexual sex was illegal in parts of Australia up until 1997 — but on marriage equality their opinion now seems clear.
Why is it taking so long?
In short, politics.
In 2004, then-prime minister John Howard changed the Marriage Act to clarify the definition of marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.”
Since then, the campaign to bring same-sex marriage to Australia has slowly ramped up but no government has committed to passing it.
In 2013, outspoken conservative and former trainee priest Tony Abbott became prime minister, apparently eliminating all hope of same-sex marriage during his term in office.
But in 2015, after loud demands from some of his ministers, Abbott announced there would be a national vote, or plebiscite, to decide the future of marriage equality.
To hold the plebiscite, the government needed money and to get that money it need to pass legislation through Australia’s parliament.
Two attempts at passing legislation in 2016 and 2017 failed after the opposition Labor party and Greens party helped block it, calling for a simple parliamentary vote legalizing marriage equality instead.
After the last attempt, the government, now under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said it would instead hold a national postal vote
“This is about the world of politics, not the Australian people. The Australian people have made their minds up on marriage equality a long time ago,” Tiernan Brady, executive director at the Equality Campaign, told CNN.
“Australia has a higher approval rating for marriage equality than some countries that have marriage equality,” added Brady.