SAME-sex marriage is coming, and it risks bringing down not just Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull but the entire government, delivering power to Labor's Bill Shorten.

And all to protect the feelings of the hard-headed right of the Coalition.

A bill is bound for the Parliament. It threatens to make this whole same-sex marriage debate disappear. It would spirit away a heavy millstone that hangs around the throat of the Turnbull Government.

All it requires is for a smattering of "rebel" MPs to support it.

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Just four need to cross the floor and support Liberal Senator Dean Smith's private member's bill and it should pass.

The rest of the Coalition can stand arms folded as this political minefield is easily crossed and defused.


Gay marriage.17 November 2014Photo Gemima Harvey/ Coffs Coast Advocate
Once it becomes legal, same-sex marriage will vanish from the agenda. Gemima Harvey/Coffs Coast Advoca

But no, instead the snowflakes inside the Liberal Party and Nationals are demanding the party dump a long-held tradition - one that sets them apart from Labor - and ban members from crossing the floor.

They have feelings and opinions about this, and like a two-year-old demanding cake, they won't budge.

Better this issue weigh down their side, cost them votes, and distract the public from its policy.

Crossing the floor would be undermining the government, they bleat.

Not that George Christensen crossing the floor to support Labor on penalty rates undermined the government.

And let's not forget that venom from Tony Abbott that targets the Prime Minister and his team. That's not undermining, that's just speaking your mind.

But a handful of MPs voting for same-sex marriage? Unforgivable.

Dawson MP George Christensen.
Remember when conservative Nationals MP George Christensen crossed the floor to support a Labor bill? That's apparently completely different from MPs supporting a bill from their own party. MICK TSIKAS

The hard-right are still hoping for some kind of ballot, a costly and complicated ordeal which will deliver a result no one will be happy with. If same-sex marriage wins out, the conservatives are unlikely to honour the verdict.

If it doesn't, the issue won't quietly vanish. The pressure will just keep building. This is a no-win game for the Coalition.

If the government can't take same-sex marriage off the table, the attacks and distractions will continue right up to the next election.

Even Pauline Hanson is using it to cudgel the government, telling fans the major parties "seem to only care about debating gay marriage laws..." -- she knows that even her backers are bored of the discussion. They just want it sorted.

PAULINE Hanson's One Nation Party has a new Queensland leader, with the Senator promoting new recruit and Buderim MP Steve Dickson to the top job.
Even Pauline Hanson describes gay marriage as a distraction, not a battle to be fought. Patrick Woods


And if Labor takes power from the Coalition, same-sex marriage will be top of the agenda. The new faces of the Coalition Opposition, fresh from defeat, will have to choose whether to fight it in the face of public popular opinion or give reluctant support.

Those MPs who lose their seats will watch from outside the House, knowing their political careers died on a hill for nothing.

The Government can own this legislation. It can oppose the change from the top, while allowing a fraction of its backbenchers to support same-sex marriage.

It would be a decisive and rare victory. The right's base can focus its anger at those who crossed the floor, not their local MP or the party. They can blame the rebels.

The Coalition can later claim that it was the party to deliver equality - not the Greens or Labor.

It can also decide how the law passes and what exceptions can be made.

And just like in the US, the laws will change then swiftly fall off the public agenda.

Whether any of this will breach the walls of the hard-heads is anyone's guess.

But threats to roll the PM over same-sex marriage seem particularly strange, given that he's going to roll out the door anyway if the issue continues to paralyse the Coalition.