Attorney-general George Brandis has confirmed a plebiscite will be held at the end of the year if the coalition is returned to office.
Attorney-general George Brandis has confirmed a plebiscite will be held at the end of the year if the coalition is returned to office. Chris Ison ROK160815cequality13

To wed or not to wed, that will be the question

ADVOCATES for and against same sex marriage have responded to the coalition government's promise to hold a plebiscite at the end of the year if they are brought back into government.

Attorney-General George Brandis has reaffirmed the stance that a re-elected government will conduct the controversial plebscite allowing the Australian people to have their say.

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome said while marriage equality should be enacted straight away, if there is to be one the outcome of the plebiscite should automatically be put into law.

"If the government allowed a free vote in parliament we could have marriage equality next week rather than delaying until the end of the year by putting the issue to an expensive and unnecessary plebiscite," he said.

"But if there is to be a plebiscite the result should automatically change the law and not return to parliament for further debate and delays."

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said while he welcomed the plebiscite, changing the Marriage Act will impact far more Australians than just ministers of religion conducting wedding ceremonies.

"While we welcome Senator Brandis' recognition that protection is needed for religious wedding celebrants, freedom of conscience rights must also be extended to people of faith or no faith who supply services to the wedding industry," he said.

"In the United States and Europe bakers, florists, photographers and wedding chapel owners have all fallen foul of the law, and in some cases have incurred big fines, for exercising their conscientiously held views about the truth of marriage."

The Australian Electoral Commission has estimated a plebiscite to change the Marriage Act will cost taxpayers $160 million.