Government frontbencher Greg Hunt believes it would be “strange” if Labor refused to back legislation to put gay marriage to a national vote.
The government plans to bring a bill to parliament as soon as possible after the July 2 election to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
Both Labor and the Greens oppose a national vote, concerned a “no” campaign could unleash hateful advertising and expose children of gay parents to negative messages.
But Mr Hunt believes a plebiscite is the “ultimate democratic act”.
“There are some people who don’t want (a plebiscite) but that’s a very weird position,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
“It gives everybody a chance to have a say.”
More than 70 per cent of Australians strongly support a plebiscite, he said.
“It would seem passing strange if (Mr Shorten) were to lose the election and then oppose a national plebiscite on this issue,” he said.
Mr Shorten raised eyebrows during a debate on Friday, linking the mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando to hate campaigns that could result from a plebiscite.
He’s since stepped back from that comparison, saying the situation faced in Australia is not the same as the United States.