You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Same-sex marriage: Frank Brennan urges Labor not to 'drag on' plebiscite

ABC News logo ABC News 24/09/2016

A reveller waves a rainbow flag during the Gay Pride Parade. © Raul Arboleda/AFP Photo A reveller waves a rainbow flag during the Gay Pride Parade. Prominent Catholic academic Father Frank Brennan is calling on Labor to support a same-sex marriage plebiscite so the issue is dealt with before the next election.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is expected to tell Labor MPs to block the legislation in the Senate, but Father Brennan said Labor should ensure the issue is dealt within the next few months.

He said he thinks same-sex marriage in Australia is inevitable.

"The risk for the Labor Party in opposing a plebiscite will be that instead of the matter being resolved by February, it will drag on in the public mind for the next year or two and then we won't know until after the next election whether there is indeed to be a plebiscite," Father Brennan said.

"And then it will take some time before the Parliament actually votes.

"So the real question is: is it better to get this over and done with now, with certainty, by February; or is it better to put it on the long finger, in the hope of the Labor Party causing maximum embarrassment and political agitation for Malcolm Turnbull?"

Federal Cabinet has signed off on plans to hold the same-sex marriage plebiscite on February 11 next year earlier in the month, and to allocate public funding for both the "yes" and "no" campaigns.

The question to be put to voters will be: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?"

Labor and the Greens have voiced concerns about the cost of the plebiscite, as well as the prospect of a potentially divisive public debate on the issue.

The Greens are opposed to a plebiscite, and Mr Shorten has said it was the "second-best option" to a direct vote in Parliament.

Despite hinting that he will tell Labor MPs to block the legislation in the past, he has not ruled it out completely, leaving the door open to compromise.

Attorney-General George Brandis and his Labor counterpart Mark Dreyfus will meet on Monday to discuss the bill.

The Prime Minister will need nine of the 11 crossbenchers in the Senate to pass legislation for the plebiscite, if the move is opposed by Labor and the Greens.

More From ABC News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon