Court hears legal challenge against Australia's equal marriage vote

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The fate of the Federal Government's plan for a voluntary postal survey on same-sex marriage hangs in the balance today after opponents took the issue to the High Court in Melbourne.

Agency, a creative studio based in Surry Hills, made "Going Postal" an 8-bit, retro running game in which users jump over the obstacles to marriage equality in order to post their ballot.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann has reiterated that the survey was "to give people their say" and the Coalition's policy had not changed, saying the government "would cross that bridge when we come to it" should the court rule against it.

Some points out that changing the Marriage Act is not an urgent matter and the vote is not unforseen too as the concept of same-sex marriage in Australia was earlier discussed in the month of March this year.

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Funding for the survey was unlocked by the government through a law concerning "urgent and unforeseen" matters.

The government's decision to hold a non-binding postal survey has also been met with severe criticism as supporters have questioned if the body overseeing the vote, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), has the power to do so.

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The advocates want parliament to decide the issue without consultation with the public and argued in the Australian High Court that the government does not have the constitutional power to start the postal survey next week.

It is one of two legal challenges being heard by the court, with the other led by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and Melbourne mother Felicity Marlowe.

Felicity Marlowe said: "I am anxious about the impact the public campaign will have in my children, on my partner and all rainbow families across Australia".

Director of Rainbow Families Victoria Felicity Marlowe is seen during a press conference outside the High Court.

Same-sex marriage advocates argue the spending was neither urgent nor unforeseen, two key requirements for advancing money from the pool of funds that can be used without parliamentary approval. "We say an opinion on same-sex marriage can't be understood as a characteristic".

The Turnbull government proposed the voluntary survey after the Senate blocked a compulsory plebiscite on the issue, promised by the Coalition at the 2016 election.

"As we understand it, a direction of this kind has never been given before", Mr Merkel said. But a few lawmakers have said their votes in Parliament would not be swayed by public opinion, raising questions about why the public is being surveyed at all. They are in favour of a free parliamentary vote where MPs are not restricted by their party policy.


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