Coalition tensions rising over same-sex marriage bill

Ian Goodenough and Dean Smith (Wikimedia)

A showdown is looming over same-sex marriage, with supporters of change demanding conservative MPs immediately release a rival bill aimed at protecting religious freedoms if a Yes vote is returned, The Australian reports.

Tensions are increasing within Coalition ranks, with conservatives being warned against undermining the outcome of the postal survey.

West Australian Liberal MP Ian Goodenough yesterday confirmed there were “probably about a dozen” MPs working on a rival same-sex marriage bill that would better protect faith-based schools and charities, as opposed to that proposed by his West Australian Liberal colleague Dean Smith.

Mr Goodenough said religious protections in Senator Smith’s bill were too narrowly focused around wedding ceremonies.

However, North Sydney Liberal MP and gay marriage advocate Trent Zimmerman said it was “curious” those opposing change now expected “the right to determine” any final legislation. “The Australian people — if they vote Yes — will expect the parliament to get on with implementing their will as quickly as possible,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Senator Smith said the debate about religious freedoms should be treated separately to honouring any Yes vote.

He also suggested conservative MPs working on the rival bill were guilty of inconsistency, noting the No campaign had called for legislation to be released during the postal survey to inform voters.

“(I have) encouraged proponents of other bills to make their bills available for public scrutiny, especially given this was a key focus of the No’s campaign during the postal line,” he said. “It makes perfect sense that a bill authored by myself and supported by four other Liberals ... should be the foundation to give effect to same-sex marriage if that was the outcome of the postal survey.”

Meanwhile, Christian Indigenous Australians have warned the government they have been overlooked in the marriage debate.

Their case has been taken up by the Christian legal think tank Freedom for Faith, which is examining how their communities could be affected if same-sex marriage were legalised without broader protections for religious freedom.

Ngardarb Riches, an elder in the Arriol clan of the Bardi-Jawi people of One Arm Point in Western Australia, told The Australian that protections should be included in any same-sex marriage legislation to help preserve indigenous kinship structures.

FULL STORY

Tensions increase over rival same-sex marriage bill (The Australian)

RELATED COVERAGE

Same-sex marriage arguments may not have swayed postal survey vote, survey finds (The Age)

Almost half of Australians back right to refuse same-sex weddings – poll (The Guardian)

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