Second Liberal Proposes Same-Sex Marriage Bill
There won't be a coalition position to decide which of two private bills is the starting point for legalising same-sex marriage, a senior Turnbull government insists.
Conservative Liberal senator James Paterson on Monday released draft legislation which he argues will preserve the freedoms of all Australians.
The bill ensures exemptions for ministers of religion and celebrants with genuine belief and allows a limited form of conscientious objection.
It also seeks to protect freedom of speech and enacts a narrow anti-detriment clause, which would prevent governments and agencies taking adverse action against someone with a traditional view of marriage.
The bill would also guarantee the right of parents to opt their children out of school classes that conflicted with their values.
Fellow Liberal Dean Smith also has a private bill ready for parliament.
It also includes exemptions so religious organisations can refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.
Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said his personal instinct was the Smith bill was "probably a good starting position" because it had been subject to a cross-party Senate committee process.
"But I suspect it will need improvement in terms of strengthening religious protections," he told ABC radio.
Ultimately it was up to parliament to decide which bill was the "vehicle to facilitate" the parliamentary debate.
"There won't be a government position, there won't be a party position," Senator Cormann said.
Senator Paterson, who voted yes in the marriage postal survey, says any ensuing law changes shouldn't have negative consequences for opponents of same-sex marriage.
"If the parliament opts for a narrower bill with fewer protections, I fear we will see some Australians seek to impose their values on others, with court cases and other legal mechanisms," he said in a statement announcing the draft bill.
"I've never believed that allowing same-sex couples to marry needs to come at the expense of the freedoms of other Australians."
Senator Paterson believes state and federal anti-discrimination laws aren't strong enough.
Nearly eight in 10 Australians who received the Australian Bureau of Statistics same-sex marriage survey form have already had their say.
The survey result will announced on Wednesday. Labor leader Bill Shorten said Australians expected the parliament to deal with marriage equality legislation before the end of the year.
"If we were not to implement a decision on marriage equality, the nation would throw up its hands and give up on the parliament," he told a meeting of opposition senators in Canberra.