Seven News can exclusively reveal that same-sex marriage is almost certain to become law after the next election.
Sources told Seven National Political Editor, Mark Riley, that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has privately conceded to senior ministers that the "people's vote" on the issue will have to be a plebiscite rather than a referendum.
While referendums are far more likely to be defeated a plebiscite is a simple yes or no vote with opinion polls consistently finding that around 70 percent of Australians said they would vote yes.
Effectively this means both major parties will go to next election promising to make same sex marriage legal.
The news comes after a week which saw Abbott chastise members of his cabinet for publicly airing conflicting views about same-sex marriage telling ministers their public squabbling on the issue was threatening marginal seat holders.
He also threatened to punish cabinet leakers, which resulted in the agenda being leaked to Seven news.
Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop this week hinted that she supported same sex marriage during a media appearance but said she wanted reassurances on how the change would affect religious institutions.
"Philosophically I'm a very liberal minded person but I'm yet to see the detail of changes to the Marriage Act that would satisfy me that we should vote for it and I've been asking for this for some time," Bishop told journalists on Thursday. "I personally believe that the Australian people should have a say on this."