Dean Smith reveals marriage bill with religious protections

Liberal senator Dean Smith has sent his marriage equality bill to his parliamentary colleagues fore their consideration.

The bill has two aims, to change the definition of marriage from a man and a women to “two people”, while also providing religious protections for minister of religion, and marriage celebrants from a religious background whose religion only allows opposite gender couples to marry.

The bill however does not include any provisions for other professionals such as bakers and florists to discriminate against couples wanting to wed, unless their business is part of a religious body.

The bill will be one option Liberal MPs are likely debate at an emergency party room meeting on Monday afternoon.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered all Liberal MPs to Canberra after the issue of marriage equality overshadowed his week in Western Australia where he was hoping to build up the Liberal brand after the party’s electoral wipe-out in the recent state election.

Senator Smith appeared on the ABC program Insiders this morning to put forward his argument on why marriage equality should be decided by the parliament rather than the governments plebiscite policy.

“Tomorrow when I go into the party room I’ll be arguing as vigorously as I can, to my colleagues, to uphold those great traditions that were set in place by Menzies, then executed under Howard on no less than five separate occasions, and that was to allow issues like this to be resolved by free vote or conscience vote in parliament.”

Senator Smith said the legislation he has put forward, The Marriage Amendment and Religious Freedoms Bill, is the most comprehensive bill the parliament has ever had because as well as providing for same sex marriage it also acknowledged those community attitudes that wanted to see religious freedoms protected.

Senator Smith said the bill had been developed based on the findings of the Senate Committee report that was released earlier this year.

“None of the other bills that have ever come before the parliament, and we’ve had in excess of fifteen of them, none of the other bills have more comprehensively dealt with the issue of religious freedoms or religious protections.”

The senator said he hoped people would be supportive of his proposed bill because it took into account religious freedoms, warning that a future Labor bill may not have the same protections.

“Now people have before them a good bill, an excellent bill, that will not only allow for same sex marriage but importantly provide for religious freedom protections.” Senator Smith said, arguing that the bill should satisfy members of his party who were concerned about religious protections.

The proposed bill has immediately been knocked back by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) the leading group against gay couples being allowed to wed.

Managing Director of the ACL, Lyle Shelton, said Senator Smith has failed to consult with religious groups and the proposed bill did not go far enough.

“If Senator Smith had been following the debate he would be aware of the intolerance of the same-sex marriage movement towards Coopers’ Brewery, a Christian IBM executive, a Christian Macquarie University academic, an Archbishop and a pastor in Tasmania.

“In the US, an elderly florist and a cake decorator are before the US Supreme Court because they believe marriage is between one man and one woman.

“Under same-sex marriage law you can refuse to ice a Halloween cake or a make one for a buck’s night but the law will force you to violate your views on marriage,” Shelton said in a statement.

Shelton said if the Liberal party allowed same-sex marriage to occur voters would turn to more conservative parties at the next election.

“It is breath-taking for Senator Smith to claim he is protecting freedom of religion when he has not consulted,” he said.

“This is typical of the ‘winners’ circle’ arrogance and hubris the Liberal Party is tolerating.

“If the Liberal Party does not deliver a pathway to preserve marriage, freedom and gender normality, voters will be looking for candidates at the next election who have the resolve to protect them.”

OIP Staff


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