Will the marriage equality bill work? Read it and make up your own mind

Liberal Senator Dean Smith has shared his private members bill for marriage equality with his parliamentary colleagues and released it for all Australians to consider.

When Liberal MPs meet tomorrow afternoon for an emergency meeting to address the contentious issue of marriage equality, Smith, alongside Trevor Evans, Warren Enstch, Tim Wilson and Trent Zimmerman will be pushing for the party to dump its plebiscite policy and allow a free vote in parliament.

Today the five politicians put out a join media release outlining why the believe their bill, based on a inquiry that was conducted earlier this year, is the best way forward.

“The Senate inquiry received over 400 submissions, heard from 45 witnesses and held three public hearings in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

“The Committee heard from a range of witnesses including the Australian Catholics Bishops Conference, the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney, Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network, Uniting Church in Australia, Coalition of Celebrant Associations, Australians for Equality, Australian Marriage Equality and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).” the MPs said in their statement.

The group argue that their Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, consciously uses the Senate Committee consensus report as the basis for the legislation that will allow two people to marry, while at the same time protecting religious views about marriage in Australia.

Senator Smith said he believed the bill will would ultimately strengthen marriage.

“This Bill gives effect to our view that all Australians should have equal access to Australia’s marriage laws and that extending marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen and not diminish marriage in Australia,” Senator Smith said.

The group described their bill as the first to introduce protection for the religious views of ministers of religion, and Australian Defence Force chaplains, while creating a new class of religious marriage celebrants.

“The Bill is the most considered and comprehensive response to the issue of same-sex marriage to date, and is the most comprehensive accommodation of competing attitudes on the issue,” Senator Smith said.

Queensland MP Trevor Evans, who caused a furor earlier this week when he suggested he’d be prepared to cross the floor of parliament overt the issue, said it was time to end the political stalemate.

“Marriage equality should not be a political issue for a moment longer. It is time we broke the political stalemate, passed the Bill and moved on,” Trevor Evans said.

The bill has drawn mixed reactions from advocates on both sides of the argument. The leading voice against marriage equality, The Australian Christian Lobby, has complained that the religious exemptions are weak and accused the politicians of failing to consult widely enough with religious groups.

Pro marriage equality organisation just.equal has raised concern that the religious exemptions contained in the bill are too broad.

Read the bill for yourself

Here’s the bill and it’s explanatory memorandum, read them for yourself and decide if this legislation will match your expectations of what marriage equality could like in Australia.

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