"Today we are one step closer to achieving marriage equality in Australia."
THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
TERRI BUTLER MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR UNIVERSITIES
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EQUALITY
MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH
Today we are one step closer to achieving marriage equality in Australia.
This afternoon, a consensus report on proposed marriage equality legislation, agreed to by Coalition, Green, Nick Xenophon Team and Labor senators has been tabled in the Senate.
The report is a major milestone, and shows what the Australian Parliament is capable of when it acts in a spirit of cooperation.
The achievement of agreement on difficult issues such as religious exemptions opens the way for bipartisan legislation to be put to Parliament so that we can finally have marriage equality in Australia.
There is no longer any reason for delay. Marriage equality in Australia can be achieved this year.
The Committee, chaired by Liberal Senator David Fawcett, reached agreement on several difficult issues, including:
- Ministers of religion should be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples;
- Civil celebrants should be required to uphold the law and marry same-sex couples if marriage equality is legalised in Australia;
- A separate category of “Religious Marriage Celebrant” should be created to allow marriage celebrants performing religious ceremonies to refuse to marry same-sex couples;
- That any exemptions for religious organisations in relation to same-sex weddings should be precisely defined.
The Committee did not recommend an exemption from anti-discrimination law for individuals or commercial businesses with a “conscientious” objection to providing goods and services for same-sex weddings.
The report examines the long-standing debate about competing rights and freedoms, including the compatibility of freedom of conscience and religion with marriage equality.
The next step is obvious – new legislation should be drafted taking account of the committee’s recommendations and introduced to Parliament, with a free vote.
Labor is willing to work with the government to make this happen.
It is time to get on with making marriage equality a reality in Australia.
THURSDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 2017