Fresh from pledging to block the marriage plebiscite in the Senate, politicans who don’t trust the people to consider the consequences of change have today moved four same-sex marriage bills in the parliament.

It is very disappointing to see political elites denying the people a say while at the same time seeking to use even more of Parliament’s time on this issue.

The first day of the Parliament is not yet over and no less than four same-sex marriage bills have been moved. Are there not more important issues facing the nation?

Labor, the Greens and independents Andrew Wilke and Cathy McGowan have all signaled they will be moving bills to change the Marriage Act.

Same-sex marriage had been considered at least 18 times by the Parliament. Several parliamentary inquries since laws were amended in 2008 have found there is no discrimination against same-sex couples in Australian law.

This is such a big change with big consequences for free speech and children’s education that all Australians should be allowed to have a say in a peoples’ vote, as promised by the Coalition parties which won the election.

It was disappointing to see Opposition Leader Bill Shorten speaking condescendingly today to an Anglican priest who raised legitimate concerns about Mr Shorten’s marginalisation of people who wish to preserve the definition of marriage.

It really is time that silencing slurs like ‘homophobe’ and ‘bigot’ were dropped from the debate so there can be a free and respectful discussion of the issues.

Despite Mr Shorten’s rhetoric regarding the plebiscite, I expect that Labor will eventually allow enabling legislation for a people’s vote to pass the Senate.

Regardless of the political posturing and brinkmanship over the plebiscite, one thing is certain and that is the issue of redefining marriage will not go away.

People are only just starting to realise the consequences of such a big change and they should not be denied the chance to discuss these in a respectful national plebiscite.

Whether or not a plebiscite goes ahead (and again, I think it will), those of us who care about marriage cannot afford to again go back to sleep.

Joining the battle when there is an emergency is commendable. But preventing things from getting to emergency stage is much more preferable.

Regardless of what happens, we all need to continue to participate in the marriage debate.