James Paterson drops plans to introduce alternative same-sex marriage bill

Liberal Senator Dean Smith will table a private members bill if the same sex marriage vote succeeds

Liberal Senator Dean Smith will table a private members bill if the same sex marriage vote succeeds

The draft Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) Bill 2017 to legalise same-sex marriage, released by Senator James Paterson yesterday, represents an "extraordinary and perilous" winding back of Australia's anti-discrimination laws under the cover of marriage equality, according to the Law Council of Australia.

At a press conference Smith suggested a way through could be for an existing parliamentary inquiry into freedom of religion to report after same-sex marriage was legalised, because conservatives are raising issues of parenting laws and free speech that are not relevant to a marriage bill.

'The Smith Bill supports the protection of religious freedoms in two key ways. While the freedom to have religious beliefs is also protected unconditionally, the manifestation or expression of those beliefs or religion may be subject to limitation where it impacts upon other fundamental rights'.

"At last, same sex couples will be able to get married, as I have long advocated", Senator Paterson said.

Paterson's bill, which has been roundly criticised by marriage equality supporters, would allow churches and celebrants to refuse to solemnise a same sex wedding, establish a limited right of conscientious objection so no-one is forced to participate in a same-sex wedding against their sincerely held beliefs, and would allow parents to take their children out of classes that conflict with their values.

"Extending marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen and not diminish marriage in Australia".

"I believe the Australian people voted to remove discrimination and I trust the bill will reflect that", Senator Wong said.

"Think very, very carefully about entrenching discrimination in order to appease your colleagues rather than the Australian people who spoke very loudly and clearly today", Senator Di Natale said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday 62 percent of registered adults who responded voted for the reform in an unprecedented survey.

"There won't be a government position, there won't be a party position", Senator Cormann said.

There is also a deadline for the bill's passage by 30 November.

Smith and the cross-party group capitalised on the mandate in the survey by introducing the bill and passing an hours motion that will lead to the bill being debated until it is passed in the sitting week beginning 27 November.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott, whose Warringah electorate voted 75 per cent "yes", appeared to favour abstaining in the final vote when asked about his position on 2GB radio.

"If you are a gay man or a gay woman and you go into a florist and say "I'd like to buy a bunch of flowers", it's just wrong and illegal for florist to say "I don't" serve gay people" just as it would be wrong or illegal for the florist to say to an indigenous person "I don't serve indigenous people'. I'm not going to frustrate the will of the public", Mr Abbott said.

In a statement, Abbott said "the parliament should respect the result" but he pointedly noted that both the prime minister and the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, had "pledged their support for freedom of religion".

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