Same-sex marriage: Senate passes the bill

SOURCEABC/SBS/The Australian


The bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia has passed the Senate after three days of vigorous debate and a series of failed amendments. The bill will now be debated by the Lower House when MPs return to Canberra next week, paving the way for same-sex marriage to be legalised by Christmas. The Senate voted for same-sex marriage, rejecting all calls to increase religious protections.

Liberal senator Dean Smith, who authored the bill, told his Senate colleagues before the vote that while it had been a difficult journey to get to this point, the debate over the bill had been “good for the soul” of all Australians.

“We should not fear conscience. The more the debate was resisted, the more the strength was found to fight for it,” he said.

“At some later point, we should reflect on how we can avoid that tortured process from ever having to happen again.

“This debate has been good for the soul of the country.

“It has been good for the soul of this chamber and it will be good for the souls of LGBTI children throughout our great country.”

The civil celebrants exemption from Senator Brandis was defeated 25 – 38 on Tuesday, while another amendment that would have extended a “right of any person” to “manifest his of her religion” was defeated 27 – 36.

Penny Wong, Labor’s leader in the Senate, said it was an historic day for all Australians.

“Today we stand on the cusp of a remarkable achievement and an historic event, and we pause briefly to reflect, just for a moment, on what we are a part of,” she said.

“We are part of an act of acceptance, an act of inclusion, an act of respect, an act of celebration — a day when this Senate declares our acceptance of our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters.

Advocates of the various religious protections that were voted down in the amendment phase voiced their disappointment.

Senator Matt Canavan said he was “sceptical that we could trust the political process” to enshrine religious freedoms.

“Unfortunately I fear I have been proven true,” Senator Canavan said.

Senator Eric Abetz accused the Senate of “hubris” for voting down the amendments.

“The taste of defeat is always bitter,” the Tasmanian Liberal said.

Nationals MP Andrew Broad has accused Malcolm Turnbull of showing a “complete lack of leadership” as conservative Coalition MPs show dismay at the likelihood the Dean Smith bill will be passed through the parliament with no amendments.

Mr Broad said the Prime Minister had walked away from enshrining religious protections in a “sneaky way” as the Senate last night rejected all amendments to the Smith bill. The bill is likely to pass the upper house without changes today.

“In my view, there’s been a complete lack of leadership,” Mr Broad told the ABC. “All the assurances both by the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader were that religious protections would be protected, they believed in those.