Aug 31, 2:48 AM EDT

Australia's prime minister has urged his political opponents to allow Australians to endorse gay marriage through a popular vote instead of putting the divisive issue into lawmakers' hands


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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Australia's prime minister has urged his political opponents to allow Australians to endorse gay marriage through a popular vote instead of putting the divisive issue into lawmakers' hands.

Most opposition lawmakers, who support gay marriage, oppose the government's plan to ask the public in a plebiscite whether the Parliament should create marriage equality.

The opposition Labor Party, the minor Greens party and two independent lawmakers on Wednesday proposed bills to allow Parliament to decide the issue without consulting the public.

Gay rights advocates are generally opposed to the plebiscite, which they argue was initiated by lawmakers who hope it fails.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on Labor leader Bill Shorten to endorse the plebiscite plan in the Senate, where the government has a minority.

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