The chairman of an Australian parliamentary committee that examined proposals to change the definition of marriage in the Oceanic country has said that he expects traditional marriage will be preserved when lawmakers vote on this issue later this year.
Committee chairman Graham Perrett, who is actually pushing for same-sex marriage to be legalized, revealed that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs conducted a poll in which 276,000 people were asked about including gay couples in the legal definition of marriage. Although 64 percent of respondents said they approved of such an inclusion, the eight members of the parliamentary committee were split on the debate, The Associate Press reported.
"My reading of it is that would not be the case," Perrett told reporters about the parliament's views on changing the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman to include same-sex couples.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said that she will allow members of her center-left Labor Party to make personal choices on how they vote on the bill seeking to legalize gay marriage, but reportedly does not support same-sex marriage herself. The Labor's Party main opposition, the conservative Liberal Party, has said it will staunchly defend the traditional definition of marriage, with leader Tony Abbott, a Roman Catholic, urging members of his party to vote the same way.
Greens Party lawmaker Adam Brandt, who introduced the bill, has said that unless Abbott decides to allow his party members to vote according to their consciences, he will not even allow the legislation to be voted on.
Labor lawmaker Stephen Jones, who is also pushing for gay marriage reform, has also predicted that same-sex couples will not be granted the right to marry.
"We're short of a majority at this point and a lot of that is contingent on whether the Liberals are given a free vote," Jones said. "I can't see that happening in the near term, but these things can change."
Perrett noted, however, that there is a push in Australian society to legalize gay marriage, with national rugby team captain David Pocock supporting such plans.
"You know when a rugby player is more progressive than many of the parliamentarians, even within the Labor Party, you know that Australia has changed significantly," the committee chairman said.
Other examples of the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage in Australia include the June edition of Marie Claire magazine, which features actress Rachael Taylor and a host of other big name Australian stars staring in an "I do" campaing to voice support for gay and lesbian couples to be married.