Senator James Paterson announces his own conservative marriage bill

Posted November 15, 2017

Sen. Dean Smith, a member of the ruling Liberal Party (which is actually conservative), drafted a bill with bipartisan support that would give religious officials the power to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

This legislation echoes fears voiced by the "no" campaign in Australia, which promoted myths that same-sex marriage would lead to "compulsory" gay sex education courses as well as cross-dressing kids.

"At the end of the day, we are in support of getting a bill through parliament that will mean we can have marriage equality", Greens senator Janet Rice said. We know that's the real slippery slope, when you unravel anti-discrimination protections, and I don't think Australian people want that. "The Smith bill is a balanced bill".

"It allows a minister of religion to refuse to solemnise a marriage due to religious views and creates extra protections for existing civil celebrants".

The Paterson bill, would also include a clause which would allow government employees the right to refuse to register a same-sex marriage, while parents will be able to remove their child from a class if the content taught contradicts their beliefs.

Tiernan Brady, the director of Australian Marriage Equality, told HuffPost Australia last week the religious freedoms argument ran counter-intuitive to the idea of having a vote for marriage equality.

Ultimately it was up to parliament to decide which bill was the "vehicle to facilitate" the parliamentary debate.

Senator Paterson, who voted yes in the marriage postal survey, says any ensuing law changes shouldn't have negative consequences for opponents of same-sex marriage.

The Senator from Victoria said his bill would allow any Australian to declare that they would not participate in a same-sex wedding if it violated their religious beliefs. "Honestly, that is a bridge too far", said Tanya Plibersek, the party's deputy leader.

Barring any unforeseen mishap, the survey results will be published on by the ABS on 15 November 2017.

"If there is a Yes result on Wednesday, Australians will have voted for true equality for all Australians - not an unfettered right to discriminate for people who voted No", said HRLC director of legal advocacy, Anna Brown. "Let's get this done so we can all move forward as a fairer and more inclusive nation", Greenwich said.