Watching the tabling of the Senate inquiry report into the exposure draft of legislation to amend the Marriage Act, you could be forgiven for thinking that the inquiry ended in a broad consensus that marriage could be redefined.
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the “clouds of partisanship had parted”, and that the report was a signal to move forward. Other Senators in favour of changing the definition of marriage without a people’s vote spoke of consensus across the board.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Despite this, same-sex marriage advocates are doing their best to mislead you, and are trying hard to bury the fact that a consensus has not yet been reached. Fortunately, there are some who are willing to be honest with the Australian people, including the chair of the Senate Committee, Liberal senator David Fawcett. Fawcett told The Guardian that more religious protections were needed before the bill moved forward:
The majority of the report identifies areas where ... the issues dividing opinion were complex, requiring careful consideration if religious freedoms were to be protected and rights balanced.
Fawcett also pointed out that those in favour of a quick vote same-sex marriage have often oversimplified the legal complications involved in such a process:
Proponents of changing the definition of marriage who say ‘let’s have that vote, it’s pretty simple’ or that it is ‘a simple, overdue change that sends a powerful message’ are putting our plural and tolerant democracy at risk.
Sky News also reported Fawcett as saying:
If Australia is to remain a plural and tolerant society, where different views are valued and legal, legislators must recognise that this change will require careful, simultaneous consideration of a wide range of specialist areas of law, as opposed to the common perception that it involves changing just a few words in one act in parliament.
As University of Newcastle law professor Neil Foster blogged, the only “consensus” reached by the Senate Committee was that there were a number of critical areas in which no agreement has been reached:
The Committee politely identifies matters on which its members, and many of its witnesses, fundamentally disagree as areas for “further discussion”. These are very broad, and in effect cover (with the single exception of ministers of religion) the whole area of how religious believers are treated under the proposed Bill. So there is no consensus on
- protection of private celebrants who are not ministers of religion;
- protection for registry officers who may have a religious objection to solemnising same sex marriage;
- protection of the ability of religious groups not to offer their premises for use in same-sex weddings;
- protection of business owners in the “wedding industries” such as florists, photographers and bakers, who do not want to be forced to devote their artistic talents to support ceremonies celebrating a sexual relationship which they see as contrary to God’s will.
It is alarming that the Australian public is being told that there is agreement on a way forward when the Senate report reveals a very different picture. Why are same-sex marriage advocates refusing to be transparent about the real issues at stake? What else are they hiding?
Same-sex marriage presents many concerns for all Australian citizens. Many find their religious beliefs, basic rights, and conscience being threatened and upended, simply because they disagree with the concept of same-sex marriage.
In the same-sex marriage debate, basic freedoms are at stake. Stand with us and make your voice heard.
Click here to see Marriage Alliance’s submission to Parliament.