Labor give their support to Dean Smith’s marriage bill

Labor will encourage the government to accept Dean Smith’s private members bill for marriage equality, should the marriage postal survey return a ‘yes’ result.

The government has promised MPs will be allowed a conscience vote on the issue of marriage equality should the $120 million dollar postal survey exercise indicate that the Australian people support changing the marriage laws.

Which legislation will be support though is an unknown factor, over the years many different bills have been put forward. On Tuesday Labor decided that they will encourage the government to use the bill developed by Western Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith.

Senator Smith’s bill was written after a parliamentary inquiry looked into concerns about freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Like all previous bills, Senator Smith’s proposed legislation does not compel churches to offer marriage to same sex couples and only changes civil marriage.

The bill also includes provisions for current civil celebrants who have undertaken their profession because of their religious convictions, as well as providing an exemption for religious organisations who may not want to hire out facilities to same sex couples.

Labor’s decision to support the bill has been welcomed by Tiernan Brady, the head of the Equality Campaign.

“I think the fact the Labor Party have endorsed a Liberal member’s bill is a wonderful symbol of how marriage equality transcends party politics,” Brady told Buzzfeed News.

Many political experts are predicting there will be conflict over which legislation will be used if the ‘Yes’ campaign should win.

Conservative MPs including Western Australian Liberals Andrew Hastie and Ian Goodenough have teamed up with Senator Eric Abetz, Zed Seselja and the Australian Conservatives Cory Bernardi to create their own marriage bill, in the event that the ‘Yes’ campaign is successful.

Goodenough as described the bill he’s working on as one that has exceptions for religious organisations and people of faith that goes ‘beyond the wedding ceremony’.

John Howard says it’s just another reason to vote ‘no’

Former Prime Minister John Howard, a leading voice in the ‘No’ campaign, has told The Australian that Labor’s support of Senator Smith’s bill gives people another reason to vote against the laws being changed.

Howard said Smith’s bill only provided the “barest of minimums” when it came to protecting religious freedoms. The former Liberal leader has previously said current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should have provided specific legislation for the Australian people to consider.

“My position has been clear all along that I think the government should have spelt out what it had in mind,” Howard said. “If the government continues to take the stance they’ll just facilitate a private member’s bill, it’s difficult to see a private member’s bill going beyond the Smith bill.”

OIP Staff

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