Inquiry into the matter of a popular vote, in the form of a plebiscite or referendum, on the matter of marriage in Australia

Our position is that a referendum or plebiscite on marriage equality is both unnecessary and undesirable, and our preference is for the Federal Parliament to address this issue through a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives and in the Senate. We submit that not only is this consistent with the tenets of a representative democracy, but it avoids giving rise to the perception that only supposed minority interests (which are, in fact, shared by a wide number of Australians) are addressed through referenda or plebiscites, while the supposed interests of the broader Australian polity are addressed through the regular machinery of Parliament. This constitutes a case of political exceptionalism, which, unless constitutional circumstances warrant it, should be avoided. Further, the risks of negative outcomes in the referendum process, based on overseas experiences, warn against such an endeavour.

Dr Lucas Lixinski, Dr Jed Horner and Darren Ou Yong