GIPPSLAND MHR Darren Chester has taken to social media to gauge public opinion on the issue of same sex marriage.
The move comes after Labor leader Bill Shorten last week announced he would introduce a bill into parliament this week to change the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriage.
On his Facebook page last week, Mr Chester invited members of his electorate to state whether they supported or opposed same sex marriage, saying it would help him decide which way to vote when the bill went before parliament.
The invitation prompted a flood of responses on his page, the overwhelming majority supporting the proposed changes.
However some, particularly those aligned with Christian groups, were vehemently opposed.
Mr Chester said the issue should be the subject of a conscience vote for parliamentarians.
"I will seek to balance my personal views with those of my electorate and to act in the national interest," he said.
Mr Chester said although public opinion remained divided, he believed sentiment was flowing towards supporting a change to the Marriage Act, particularly among younger people.
However, he said he had not decided how he would vote, and wanted to see the legislation drafted by Labor first.
"I would certainly welcome constructive, respectful and moderate feedback on the issue from Gippsland residents who have an opinion for or against same sex marriage," Mr Chester said on is Facebook page.
Mr Chester invited public comments on his Facebook page.
He urged those not comfortable making their opinion known publicly to email him at email@example.com
Some of the many comments regarding marriage equality on Mr Chester’s Facebook page:
For same sex marriage:
“Please vote yes. It’s not marriage equality, just plain equality.”
“It should not even be an issue, people in love should be able to marry, sex, age, colour, religion shouldn’t matter.”
“If two people are in love and wish to spend their lives together and marry they should be legally allowed to whether they are two people of the same sex or not. It is time for Australia to stop living in the past — yes to marriage equality!”
“Beautiful to see so many indicating YES. Makes me proud to be a born and bred Gippslander.”
“As a parent and grandparent of gay men I say yes to gay marriage xx”
Against same sex marriage:
“Marriage according to the bible is between a man and a women (sic), further homosexuality is abhorred by God which again is clear from the Bible. To me then marriage is a reserved word, and not to be used for just any union. If these people want to form pair bonds, and I guess that is their prerogative then they can have a civil union and call it by any other name. Since marriage was ordained by God and Gods (sic) business is carried out by churches, what makes you think that parliamentary legislation is appropriate to reverse what God himself has ordained? Am I right in thinking there is a distance between Church and State? Perhaps not.”
“Please accept my NO vote Darren. To secure the safety of the next generation we need to stay with the traditional idea of marriage..!!”
“Mr. Chester, please vote against homosexual marriage. Sodomy is a mortally sinful act and should in no way be celebrated or promoted.”
“No, I don’t support the proposed bill to change the marriage act. Marriage is between a man and a wife to the exclusion of all others.”
“No I do not support the same sex marriage act. Marriage is between a man and a woman one reason being for procreation. Same sex marriages deny the children of that union (of which one can never be the biological parent) the right to a mother and a father. Even though we have many divorced couples, the child — in a large percentage of cases — has equal visitation with both parents thus has the right to be influenced by both sexes.”