Australia's top court hears bid to stop gay marriage survey

Gay rights advocates have argued in Australia's highest court that the government cannot bypass Parliament to pay for a 122 million Australian dollar ($97 million) public survey on whether gay marriage should be legalized.

The advocates want Parliament to decide the issue without consultation with the public and argued in the High Court on Tuesday that the government does not have the constitutional power to start the postal survey next week.

The government will argue its case on Wednesday.

Opinion polls show most Australians want same-sex marriage legalized, but many advocates question how representative of Australian attitudes the postal survey would be.

The judges are hearing two similar cases simultaneously over Tuesday and Wednesday in the city of Melbourne. They could rule as early as Wednesday.