Tensions increase over rival same-sex marriage bill

Liberal MP Ian Goodenough. Picture: AAP
Liberal MP Ian Goodenough. Picture: AAP

A parliamentary 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.

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 — whose private members’ bill has the backing of Labor as well as Liberal MPs ­including Mr Zimmerman, ­Warren Entsch, Trevor Evans and Tim Wilson — 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.”

Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi has called for a delay in legislating same-sex ­marriage in the event of a Yes vote, arguing it is more ­important to ­resolve the citizenship crisis. Further doubts have emerged about the validity of more MPs under section 44 of the Constitution.

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.

“We want to see our kinship structure strong; we want to see the family continue to the next generation,” she said.

“If white­fellas in Canberra change the marriage laws that will impact us, and it is going to further ­confuse our people ... We don’t want to again change the definition of the marriage, the place of the mother and the father.

“There’s got to be respect from both ways. This is part of our ­culture, it’s been part of our lives, it’s how we’ve kept going, so we can’t just change it.”

Maureen Atkinson, who was raised in a traditional Barngarla family near Port Augusta and taken from her family at age nine and placed in the Umeewarra Mission, also urged the parliament to “listen to our old people”. “Don’t just go ahead and do this. Talk to the old people, the traditional people,” she said. “I don’t hold too much faith in the government.”

Researchers from the US ­Studies Centre at Sydney University last night revealed that the findings of public opinion surveys in the US and Australia on same-sex ­marriage showed that support was much stronger in Australia.

It found 60 per cent of Australians supported same-sex marriage, 32 per cent were opposed and 8 per cent were undecided. This compared to the US where 48 per cent supported same-sex marriage, with 40 per cent opposed and 12 per cent undecided.

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Avatar for Anthony & Joan

Actually what NO voters are asking for a separation of Church and state to continue. SSM is the State placing an injunction on this separation through the use of State Laws and Anti-prejudice laws. 

Avatar for Linda

What if it's NO?

Avatar for David


Then Labor win the next election and introduce it within 100 days. So NO voters may have ruined the coalition's chances at the next election.

Avatar for Paul

Are religious groups now of a minority in Australia such that the proposed Smith bill to enable same sex marriage is discriminatory against them? Or would the proposed bill instead be a reflection of majority public opinion, and the complaints of religious groups be seen more as the grievance of a group that is unhappy at finding itself in the minority and seeking some from of legislative compensation? I think the latter.

To compel a church to marry a same sex couple when it is contrary to their theology, dogma or belief would be an invasive act on the practise of their religion. The Smith bill thus supports protection of religions on this basis. I agree with this.

But to permit a retailer to withhold a commercial service to a customer because of their sexuality would be to distort the market place in a free and private enterprise economy. Religion has no place in formulating the legal terms of doing business in an open society. Our society protects the freedom of every customer to shop and buy wheresoever a retailer is licensed to do so. 

Put another way: a church’s primary purpose is to carry out the communal practice of a religion. That is not the primary purpose of a retail or commercial establishment. A retail or commercial outlet exists for the purpose of conducting a business. Business law is the proper remit of secular authorities (Luke 20:25 comes to mind), and non-discrimination laws are properly applied to all, not some, places of business.

The Smith bill thus correctly, in my view, omits retail establishments.

Avatar for stuart

@Paul  "To compel a church to marry a same sex couple when it is contrary to their theology, dogma or belief would be an invasive act on the practise of their religion"

Yeah, I done the Canning Stock Route a few times.

I can't film some sacred sites.

Same thing?

Avatar for Anthony & Joan

@Paul  Tell me why Qantas and Westpac have spent so much on promoting SSM as their organisations have nothing to do with and understanding of marriage have they?

Avatar for B J

@Anthony & Joan @Paul  It is called free speech; you know that thing you are so worried about. They like other organisations see issues the align with their CORPORATE values. They imply support but do not discriminate against those who disagree...

Avatar for Opinionator

@Paul A retailer would be quite entitled to not serve a customer on religious grounds if they thought the customer was going to cause/recieve hurt according to their moral code (eg. if a customer said they wanted to buy a ladder to do some perving or to hang themselves).  You can't legislate away someone's values. Practicing religion is not constrained to just the weekend, it operates 24/7!  That's the problem with the proposed Smith Bill.  Also the Smith Bill won't protect the children in school from being taught radical gender ideology or protect other general citizens from stating publicly that they only support traditional marriage.

Avatar for Paul

@Anthony & Joan @Paul We are a nation of the ‘fair go’, yet No supporters fail the pub test of applying the ‘fair go’ principle to same sex relationships. Your post is another example.

That which we seek for ourselves, we seek for others; that which we benefit ourselves, others benefit too; that which is fair for us, is for our neighbour; it is the ‘fair’ in ‘fair go’ - equality consists in being fair to everyone.

That which we actively enjoy, others actively enjoy also; that which we work to receive, others receive also; it is the ‘go’ in ‘fair go’ - equality consists in the doing, the ensuring there is fairness to both all.

‘Fair go’ is Australian slang for equality. It is our founding ethic, intrinsic to our sense of being mates with each other; it is part of our identity as a nation, and part of our heritage. It belongs to all of us, individually, in clubs, groups, corporations. We  aspire to it continually.

I hope the No supporters ‘lose’ this postal survey and win back their sense of what ‘fair go’ actually means.

Avatar for Opinionator

@Paul @Anthony & Joan Fair go eh!  What is fair about ruining children's lives?  What is not fair are the terrible consequences of the proposed change (eg Canada).  If a change helps one person, but harms many others, then it is bad policy! You twist the truth to suit your own agenda, but fail to see that for every choice, there are consequences that cannot be avoided.  I bet not many YES voter would take personal accountability for their choice, whereas, most NO voters would. 

Avatar for Michael

I think the issue isn’t so much discriminating against people one basis of the sexuality - we don’t want to allow that kind of discrimination. But the difference is participating in an event you in conscience cant suoort. Providing photos, flowers, cakes or other services for a gay wedding is a different category to plain discrimination IMHO.

Avatar for Frances

@Opinionator @Paul @Anthony & Joan Talk about twisting the truth - your post is a clear example of the twisting that's going on. Ruining children's lives???? Terrible consequences???? 

I voted yes and I like all the other yes voters I know am prepared to take personal responsibility.

Avatar for Peter

Congratulations on the indigenous people for standing up to this SSM movement that has falsely claimed equality as part of the agenda to gather strength and manipulate those with faith. If the indigenous have recognised the traditional family before the white man came, then it is not a social construct and the desire for procreation through marriage gives cause to the natural way we were created. Anything that seeks to destroy this natural desire is not of faith in God but of demonic spirits because that is what they do. Destroy what God has brought together. SSM will further confuse not only the indigenous people but future generations of all cultures. It will undermine marriage to the point that it is no longer desired and this will have consequences.

Avatar for B J

@Peter Do they speak for the residents of Redfern or are they just trying to bring back Mission life by stealth. In a strict Christian sense wouldn't the Dreamtime stories and their gods be demonic to you too? 

Avatar for David


Procreation and marriage are not exclusively predicated on each other. Throughout history many people didn't get married but did procreate. The 'natural way' we were created has never needed marriage. Marriage isn't god's province.  

Avatar for B J

@David @Peter  Must be a bit I missed "And thou shall marry thine ox to thine cow otherwise all its offspring shall be illegitimate and unclean to eat..." I am sure it in there somewhere.

Avatar for Anthony & Joan

@B J @Peter  You speak from gross ignorance BJ. Kinship structure and relationships are a core part of Indigenous Culture. Nothing to do with Christianity.

Avatar for Anthony & Joan

@David @Peter  Marriage was introduced in ancient times to ensure the father has taken responsibility for the children he has sired. But this does not suit your agenda does it?

Avatar for B J

@Anthony & Joan @B J @Peter  I am aware of that. I am also acutely aware of the other parts of indigenous culture and ritual that are not Christian. So once again the Christian lobby purloins things it did its very best to wipe out now it suits them

Avatar for Peter

@David @Peter The natural way can be Gods way through the law ( I'm referring to Old Testament) and our conscience that comes from that law.

Avatar for Peter

@B J @Peter The indigenous have never been urban dwellers and as a result of this lifestyle may have corrupted their values. The Dreamtime stories have links to the creation theory of Genesis. 

Avatar for Peter

@Anthony & Joan @B J @Peter  and likewise you speak from ignorance because if you do some study on the movement of people over time it is highly likely the indigenous descended from Ham, son of Noah. They have been dispersed but hung onto the story of creation through their Dreamtime. This is the link to Genesis and that is why the indigenous people so readily accept Christ and the written word of God that makes all the difference in their lives which legislation has never been able to do.

Avatar for B J

@Peter @Anthony & Joan @David  In the Tanami a sacred tree is classified as one with a trunk large enough so you cannot put your hands around it and have your fingers and thumbs touch. It is a logical way to protect the environment (I know this having worked there) once sacred it is not harmed which allows it to act as a resource tree.

So why don't we equally respect what indigenous culture considers sacred as its environmental law? well, first we cannot and second that is not going to cut it with graziers.

Pick, choose, pick, choose; whatever suits your point of view 

Avatar for B J

@Peter @Anthony & Joan  I cannot argue that; as I am; 

a) not interested and 

b) unlikely to

convert you. If you wish to believe that then fine. the epic of Gilgamesh predates the Noah story by quite a distance in time. Science has a different view of the movement of humanity and aboriginal culture predates our western Judeo Christian culture by tens of thousands of years. 

The indigenous population were herded onto missions and forced to convert to Christianity banned from practising their culture and language. Not content with that their children were then forcibly removed with the complicity of these "Christian Missions." Yes it has made all the difference in their lives. yes such a power for good.

Avatar for B J

@Peter @B J  Pick choose pick choose now their Dreamtime is your creation, convenient that. If so why did the missions go to such lengths to crush their culture language and practices? Why didn't you convert to their faith?

Avatar for stuart

@Peter  "Anything that seeks to destroy this natural desire"

I don't see that as a happening thing.

Yes or No, I enjoy my hetero snuggle time.

Avatar for William

@Barbara @Anthony & Joan @Peter @David All of the above is a side-show. You may be entertaining yourselves but no one else is entertained. 

I note some new research, by what seems a solid organisation, suggests that no one as been swayed all these weeks to change their vote. The 60% YES vote has stayed that not withstanding all the argy bargy. #

Avatar for Barbara

@David @Anthony & Joan @Peter Disingenuous rubbish, The majority of people married in most cultures for centuries. When genealogists trace family histories they trace them through registrations of marriages, births and deaths.

Until reliable contraception was invented in the 1960s, sex usually resulted in children. Marriage gave women and children financial support from the husband and father. There was no other means of support.

Until a century ago, it was usual for married women to have a baby a year. Illegitimate children were rare and women had no means of raising them independently.

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