A gay rights activist holds a placard during a rally supporting same-sex marriage, in Sydney, Australia May 31, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray
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Gay rights advocates fear that government lawmakers will be reluctant to support the bill as such a law would be seen as a political victory for Shorten over Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a former Roman Catholic seminarian and a staunch opponent of marriage equality.Shorten told Parliament the law would not compel religious clerics to officiate at same-sex marriages. He called on Abbott to allow lawmakers in his ruling Liberal Party a free vote, rather than require them to back the party's line in opposing marriage equality.Abbott says the party has yet to decide whether his party's lawmakers would he allowed a free vote when the issue next comes up in Parliament.
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