Despite a determined push by Australia’s anti-gay marriage lobby – and a whopping A$1 million (£593,000) injected by the Anglican Church into the ‘hysterical ‘No’ campaign – a new poll shows that ‘Yes’ voters are comfortably ahead.
According to this report, a special Newspoll survey shows a massive 59 per cent of those who have returned their postal ballots are in favour of legalising gay marriage. Just 38 per cent of the millions of Australians who have voted said they were against.
That means around 67.5 per cent of the 16 million forms sent out have been posted back. The only way in which the No campaign could now succeed is by winning three out of every four remaining votes, according to the figures from Newspoll.
It also found a high level of support for same-sex marriage among those who have not yet voted, with 56 per cent of all respondents in favour of the legislative change and 37 per cent against.
The poll makes gloomy reading for the conservative Christians, and specially the Anglican and Catholic Churches. Yesterday, The Tablet reported that the Anglicans had donated A$1 million to the Coalition for Marriage.
Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop, Dr Glenn Davies said:
Brothers and sisters, the stakes are high and the cost is high. Yet the cause is just and it is a consequence of our discipleship to uphold the gift of marriage as God has designed it — a creation ordinance for all people. I therefore make no apology for encouraging all Australians, especially Anglicans, to vote ‘No’ in this postal survey.
And Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop, Anthony Fisher, above, has expressed concern about religious freedom in Australia as the country enters the last month of its postal survey on same-sex marriage.
In a homily at St Mary’s Cathedral on 15 October, Archbishop Fisher said:
Governments should, in general, keep out of the friendship business and out of the bedroom. The only kind of friendship the state has a proper interest in recognising and regulating is heterosexual marriage, because that’s what leads to children – new citizens – and gives them the best start in life.
Likewise, it’s no business of the Church to be ritualising other relationships: the only kind that can be a natural marriage and, if between two baptised people, a sacramental one is that between a man and wife. We are not saying [other friendships] are less, or unworthy of support, or not genuine: we are simply recognising that they are not marriage.
One Twitter user wrote
The RCC preaching about bedrooms?! really?
The poll shows that support for same-sex marriage is strongest in the youngest demographic, aged 18-34, with 66 per cent in favour and just 28 per cent against. The ratio narrows as voters get older; people aged over 65 are the only group more likely to vote No, with 49 per cent against legalising gay marriage to 44 per cent in favour.
Older voters are more likely to return their ballots, but it is looking increasingly unlikely they can reverse the trend at this juncture.
The figures have defied the expectations of both opponents and proponents of same-sex marriage, who did not predict such a significant voter turnout in a non-compulsory postal ballot.
The Equality Campaign’s Shirleene Robinson said it showed Australians hadn’t forgotten about LGBTI neighbours.
Australians have recognised how important this issue is to their family, friends and colleagues and are doubling down to ensure that when this campaign is over we are left with the fair, equitable and inclusive country that we all want.
This is a great result and confirms that Australians want to get this done and are returning their surveys in record numbers.
And it seems the No side is beginning to accept defeat, with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who is against same-sex marriage, telling the audience at a Fairfax media event in Sydney last week he believed Yes would win.
The Minister personally opposes changing the law but has pledged to vote for it in Parliament if the Yes campaign is successful.
Meanwhile the Anglican Bishop of North West Australia, Gary Nelson, has, according to PinkNews, threatened to ban all weddings if same-sex marriage becomes legal.
He claimed that if the vote in favour of equal marriage passes, he would block the registration of all marriages, heterosexual or gay, in the region.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (The Tablet and PinkNews reports)