COTA Queensland offers the following insight to the High Court's decision to progress this month's postal survey on same-sex marriage.
What are we voting on?
Under the current legislation, the Marriage Amendment Act (2004) which made amendments to the original Marriage Act (1961), states that "marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life".
Therefore, same-sex couples are legally unable to be wed in Australia.
Are you for or against gay marriage in Australia?
Australians are being asked their views on whether or not they believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry through a postal survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The survey will only ask you a single question; should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry, to which a yes or no response is required.
Who can participate?
Australians who are enrolled on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, or those who've made a valid request for enrolment by the end of August 24, 2017 local time (ie midnight).
The minister has amended the Direction to the Australian Statistician to confirm that Australians who are enrolled on the electoral roll and eligible to participate in a federal election, will be included in the survey.
People who become eligible for enrolment after August 24, for example those who turn 18 after August 24, will not be included in the survey.
It is strongly recommended that you return your form by October 27.
Do I have to complete the survey?
You don't have to participate in the survey. If you don't want to vote, the ABS recommends you tear your survey form into two or more pieces and dispose of it.
Is this still a plebiscite?
Essentially no, it's a survey. The ABS will conduct the postal survey as soon as practical over a two week period from Tuesday September 12. After all, collecting statistical information is core to their business.
If the majority vote is yes, does that mean same sex marriage is legal?
No. The survey is an opinion poll to gage the views of Australians on same sex marriage to be addressed in parliament.
If a majority of people chose yes, a parliamentary vote will be held. If Australians vote no, the parliamentary vote will not proceed.
Why the vote?
As the Marriage Act (1961) and the Marriage Amendment Act (2004) are not part of the constitution, a vote on the floor of the house is required to make any changes.
- September 12 - commencement of mailing of forms and collection period.
- October 18 - requests for replacement survey form closes (6pm local time).
- October 27 - The date all Australians are asked to return their form by.
- November, 7 (6pm EST) - closing date for responses.
- November 15 - survey report released.
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