Friday, September 08, 2017

Australia's Top Court Upholds Planned Mail Survey of Voters On Same-Sex Marriage

In Wilkie v. Commonwealth of Australia, (High Ct. Australia, Sept. 7, 2017), Australia's highest court unanimously upheld the government's plan to conduct a voluntary survey by mail of the country's voters on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized.  At issue in the case was whether the government acted properly when it used a law permitting expenditures which are urgent and unforeseen to fund the survey.  As reported by
Ballots with the question, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” will be sent to households across the nation on September 12....
If a majority of people vote in favour, a vote will then be held in parliament which [Prime Minister Malcolm] Turnbull says he expects will make same-sex marriage legal. If Australians vote no, Mr Turnbull has said the parliamentary vote will not proceed.
The postal survey was conceived after Australia's Senate voted against government sponsored legislation for a binding plebiscite. Interestingly, advocates of marriage equality were among those challenging the plebiscite, arguing that Parliament should legalize same-sex marriage without this preliminary vote. (Marriage Equality Information Sheet).  Law & Religion Australia last month had a lengthy post on the religious liberty implications of the substantive legislation that is being considered.