Mental Health Experts Warn Government Against 'Very Damaging' Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite

Religious exemptions included in Australian marriage equality law

Under the plan, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will be able to conduct the postal vote with assistance from Australian Electoral Commission officers.

The Senate will likely vote on the issue this week, with the Government committing to a voluntary postal ballot from mid-September if plans for a compulsory-attendance plebiscite on November 25 don't make the cut.

Mr Cormann said the government would take the proposal of a mandatory plebiscite to Parliament for a second time, and if that was unsuccessful, would go through with the voluntary, non-binding postal plebiscite.

The former political figurehead's comments come as the country opens a new plebiscite (a public vote) on the introduction of same-sex marriage. The government will receive the final results on Nov 15.

This measure failed Wednesday, after critics assailed the plebiscite's high cost to taxpapers ($160 million in USA currency) and its potential to encourage antigay campaigning.

Despite a postal vote now appearing all but certain, advocacy groups are promising a legal challenge, local media reported.

"I encourage every Australian to exercise their right to vote on this matter".

The government has been roundly criticised for its determination to push forth with the postal plebiscite, which was decided in a lengthy party room meeting on Monday.

Earlier this week, lawmakers in the Liberal Party - the (actually conservative) ruling party in Australia's Parliament - had attempted to pass a mandatory plebiscite, which would have required Australians to vote on the issue at the polls this November.

If you're finding it tough to keep up with Australia's consistent back and forth on the same-sex marriage issue, we feel you.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told reporters the cost of a postal vote would be $122 million.

He said that Australia now had an "an global obligation to treat same sex couples equally before the law and particularly to give them equal protection of the law" after the UN's ruling.

The senator said the plebiscite was an "expensive stunt" and slammed claims it was a "unifying moment".

"[What] two people in love who want to get married has to do with freedom of speech I have no idea".

After months of delays and rumors about how Australia would make a democratic decision about the contentious issue, the process itself has become a subject of widespread scorn. "But in the end, this is not about the politicians, this is about the people, it's about your view".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten slammed the Liberal Party's policy as a delaying tactic.

"I spend a lot of time engaging with constituents and welcome any opportunity to spend even more time in the community", Abetz said.

If the Senate blocks the plebiscite again, Turnbull is ready to hold a mail-in vote.

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