Coalition tested on marriage conscience vote proposal

A SENATE crossbencher is hoping the Coalition will allow its MPs to vote with their conscience on a marriage equality bill due to come before parliament next week.

While Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm admitted he wasn't sure there was enough support in the government or the Opposition, he hoped both parties would change their position.

Sen Leyonhjelm and the Greens have supported marriage equality, and while there are members of both major parties who privately back the concept, the Coalition is currently against a conscience vote.

But Sen Leyonhjelm said he hoped that would change, as now his private senator's bill was scheduled for debate, both parties would have to discuss it in private meetings next Tuesday before the debate on Thursday.

"I don't expect it to come to a vote, it is just the beginning of a debate and today I'm asking the prime minister, through his colleagues, to join in that debate," he said.

He also said he knew Sunshine Coast MP, Member for Longman Wyatt Roy and West Australian Senator Dean Smith were now backing the conscience vote and the bill within the party.

Sen Leyonhjelm said he had Coalition members in both houses willing to co-sponsor a bill, but he declined to name them, saying he did not want to pressure anyone into a vote.

Topics:  gay rights marriage equality politics

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