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Final SSM poll reveals vote jump

IT’S the news that will cheer Yes supporters and leave the No camp despondent as the hours tick down to the same-sex marriage result.

A new poll released on Tuesday, the final before the announcement of the postal survey, has shown the Yes vote has maintained its lead — in fact, the pro-SSM camp has even strengthened its majority.

The announcement will be made at 10am on Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Canberra.

A Newspoll for The Australian reported 63 per cent of those polled had voted Yes in the survey.

This is a rise from 62 per cent from a fortnight ago and a steady swing towards Yes since the campaign began. Overall 58 per cent of Australians supported a law change but around 20 per cent of these hadn’t actually voted. When only the intentions of those who had voted were taken into account, the Yes figure rose.

The No campaign’s final polling figure was 37 per cent of those who voted.

The polling was carried out among 1600 people over the weekend.

Enthusiasm for a law change was highest among Green voters and lowest among One Nation supporters. Coalition voters were more or less evenly spilt on the issue.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he expects a Yes vote to be returned on Wednesday. He previously told news.com.au a law change could happen before Christmas.

His predecessor, Tony Abbott, has said a vote of 40 per cent would be a “moral victory” for the definition of marriage being solely between a man and a woman.

Yesterday, the former prime minister, who first proposed a popular vote, said defeat for No could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if it forces the “defenders” of Western civilisation out of complacency.

“For too long we have put up with the trashing of our country’s history and the rubbishing of our ethical norms because we didn’t want to upset people,” he wrote in The Australian on Tuesday.

“The challenge will be to keep the faith and stay the course for the even more important struggles ahead.”

In anticipation of a Yes victory, the battleground has now moved to Canberra where two bills to legislate for same-sex marriage are competing for attention.

A private members bill, from Liberal Senator Dean Smith, includes opt outs meaning religious ministers and celebrants wouldn’t have to officiate at same-sex weddings.

However, a new same-sex marriage bill, spruiked on Monday by fellow Liberal Senator James Paterson, would extend opt outs beyond religion to anyone who merely had a “conscientious” objection to same-sex marriage.

Backers of the bill have said it “preserves the freedoms of all Australians”.

However, Anna Brown, of The Equality Campaign, said the new proposal creates a unique “licence to discriminate” against gay people and could lead to shops putting up signs saying “no gays allowed”.

“Australia turned its back on this type of discrimination when it ended the White Australia policy and extended equal rights to indigenous Australians in the 1967 referendum,” Ms Brown said.

Also on Wednesday, new research was published that showed rugby and soccer fans were the strongest supporters of the stand taken by major sporting organisations to back same-sex marriage.

The decision by 36 of the country’s big sports organisations including the AFL, NRL, Football Federation of Australia and Cricket Australia to throw their weight behind same-sex marriage sparked a backlash among some fans and commentators.

But a poll of more than 1000 people by YouGov and Monash University found 56 per cent believed the major sports bodies were right to support Yes.

Three-quarters of rugby fans and 71 per cent of soccer fans backed the stand taken by the sporting groups, with more than 60 per cent of cricket, NRL and AFL fans also agreeing.

Former Wallaby David Pocock, a long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, said the results demonstrated sport had an important role to play in conversations about social issues.

“I think we are starting to see a real shift in society around issues of diversity and inclusion,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that when the results come out on Wednesday we will see a very clear majority of Australians supporting marriage equality and it can finally be written into law in Australia.”

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