Same Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate
On Wednesday, 29 November, the sex marriage bill cleared the Senate without major amendments.
The bill, which was put forward by Liberal Senator Dean Smith, passed the upper house with 43 votes in favour and 12 votes against.
“The bill is the fulfilment of the people’s will to extend equality to all citizens and it takes away no religious or civil right from anyone,” Mr Smith said.
Senator Smith said that the vote had brought out the best in parliament, “In a time when institutions are questioned, we have seen in this debate how our Parliament was meant to work, where life experience informed decisions, were amendments were debated and assessed against good argument and where we debate according to an argument’s merits, rather than taking the political short cut of questioning each other’s motives or integrity.”
A number of Senators previously attempted to introduce amendments to protect ‘religious freedoms’ such as the rights of marriage celebrants to refuse same sex couples on the grounds of religious beliefs.
LNP Senator Matt Canavan was among those who voted against the Bill. Senator Canavan cited the lack of amendments, “I unfortunately, cannot support this unamended bill because I do not think we have made these changes in a way which advances rights fully through this process,” he said.
Australian Christians for Marriage Equality have hailed the decision, writing on their Facebook wall that “no new religious exemptions are necessary! One law for all Australians.”
The comment contrasts with the response from the Coalition for Marriage. In a statement released today, the Coalition accused the Senate of prioritising “politics over the people”.
The Bill will now head to the House of Representatives, which sits again on 4 December.
The Coalition for Marriage statement said the organisation is “hopeful that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will not renege on their promises to protect religious freedom, and looks forward to these protections being inserted into the Labor/Greens/Smith Bill when it comes to the House of Representatives”.
A joint letter previously signed by Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan and all Moderators called for church members to engage with the issue of Same Sex Marriage with compassion.
For same sex marriage to take place in Uniting Churches, the church would need to change its definition of marriage and develop a new liturgy.
(Pictured) West Australia senator Dean Smith (AAP) – file image
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ editor
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