Following a non-binding referendum in Australia where the public overwhelmingly voted in favour of entrenching same-sex marriage in law, the Australian government has now approved legislation to permit same-sex marriage – a measure which could become binding as early as next week.
The bill was passed by the Senate with a commanding 43 votes to 12.
It should be noted that there was some opposition from Conservatives, who suggested that allowing interested parties, such as bakers, florists, and musicians to refuse services to same-sex couples should be a fundamental consideration to enable them to have broad protections on religious grounds. However, those suggestions were either abandoned or defeated during the two-day debate in the Senate.
That suggestion came at the same time as the impending case of a Colorado baker in the US who will fight his decision to refuse to serve an LGBTQ couple at his bakery based on his assertion that he owns the business privately and to not be permitted to decide who he wants to serve infringes on his First Amendment Rights.
Labor Senator, Penny Wong, argued that to allow those amendments would be to extend the discrimination the Australian people had deliberately voted against in the referendum.
She said: “The Australian people voted to lessen discrimination, not to extend it and we, the Senate, have respected that vote by rejecting amendments which sought to extend discrimination or derail marriage equality.”
However, Matt Canavan, National Party Senator, talking about the Conservatives’ proposed amendments, said that the bill, as it stands, does not envisage a way in which everyone’s rights are fully advanced.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal-National coalition government and the main opposition Labor Party have discussed implementing the law through parliament by 7 December.