Same-sex marriage set to pass Parliament

Published: 07 December 2017 Image credit: Reuters

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The historic marriage equality bill looks set to pass Parliament today, meaning it could be just days before same-sex marriage is legal.

More than 100 MPs have debated the issue this week.  

Most legislators are in favour of a change to the definition of marriage, but the chamber continues debating the finer details of the bill –  including whether or not to amend in additional religious freedom protections.

“I do not support the insertion of unnecessary amendments,” Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the chamber.

“Acts of Parliament should not contain superfluous clauses – especially superfluous clauses based on the opinion that Australia’s laws don’t adequately protect the religious freedoms that we have cherished since Federation. I firmly believe that they do.”

Mr Pyne’s backing of Dean Smith’s bill without amendments –  already passed by the Senate – sees the bill secure a majority 75 votes.

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'Yes' supporters celebrate the same-sex marriage bill passing the Senate. Image: Reuters

Proposed amendments to the bill include religious exemptions enabling civil celebrants to discriminate against gay couples.

If the bill passes without amendments today, the Governor-General could ratify it this week to make same-sex marriage legal – in line with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to deliver the law by Christmas.

On Wednesday night, Government MP Sarah Henderson gave an emotional speech paying tribute to a “very dear friend” John Parker who died “very tragically a number of months ago”.

“I don’t want to say too much about John because he was gay and it was something he had a lot of struggles [with],” Ms Henderson told the Parliament.

“He really wanted to see this change in the law… I’m sorry I’m crying.

“In one of the last conversations I had with him he just said to me ‘Hendo, just bloody get on with it okay?’

“And I say to JP, my dear, beloved friend who I miss so dearly: JP, that’s what we are doing.”

The first legal same-sex weddings in Australia could happen about January 8, 2018.