It Took 47 Minutes For The Liberal Plebiscite To Appear Doomed

Australia's Marriage Act 1961 states that "Certain unions are not marriages" and that any which takes place in another nation, even if that country does have marriage equality, "must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia".

If the popular vote endorsed change, there would be a free vote for Liberal MPs on the resulting legislation, allowing those opposed to same-sex marriage to vote against.

It's going to go back and try to get a plebiscite through the senate again (which will nearly certainly fail), then it's going to hold a voluntary postal plebiscite.

In July, a government senator said he was drafting a private member's bill aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage, but Turnbull said he would not allow the bill to be voted on.

Senator Cormann said the Liberal Party was committed to holding a public vote.

"My view, number one, would be to vote in Parliament tomorrow on the issue but, in recognising the concerns of my colleagues, I am more than happy to go with a postal vote", Liberal MP Jason Wood said as he left parliament. "Doesn't matter what we do, they'll never change, they'll be vehement opponents", he said.

Marriage equality campaigners have already vowed to launch a legal challenge to a postal plebiscite if the government tries to hold one.

Advocates, who were present in Canberra to lobby Liberal politicians ahead of the emergency party room meeting, released legal advice on Monday suggesting a postal vote would be blocked by the courts.

He said the Government's first preference was for a compulsory national vote but if the Senate maintained its opposition to a plebiscite Bill, the coalition would proceed with a voluntary postal process.

Same-sex marriage is supported by 61 percent of Australians, a 2016 Gallup opinion poll showed, but the issue has fractured the government and damaged Turnbull's standing with voters.

Labor agreed to back the bill if it was put before Parliament.

Marriage equality advocates have said they will seek to block any postal plebiscite, arguing that it is unconstitutional and labelling the move "beyond a joke".

Those critical of a postal vote rather than continuing to just persist with the plebiscite included Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews, Craig Kelly, Julian Leeser and Russell Broadbent.

Another idea doing the rounds: stick with Option A, the plebiscite, until closer to the election, then switch to Option C with an election promise to match Labor's of a parliamentary conscience vote after the election.

Australia's leading marriage equality advocacy group, The Equality Campaign, said it was very disappointed with the decision.

Federal Coalition members of Parliament are angry that several of their colleagues are planning to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives to consider another bill to redefine marriage. "If that were to fail, the government believes that we have a legal and constitutional way forward to give the Australian people a say on whether or not the definition of marriage should be changed through a non-legislated, voluntary postal plebiscite".