This week has been a disappointing one.
The legislation for same-sex marriage has been debated in the Senate over the past week, and, unfortunately, the amendments to the Dean Smith bill to protect freedom of speech, conscience, religion and parental rights have been defeated.
Labor senators voted as a bloc against these freedoms, and even though the majority of Liberal senators were supportive of these amendments, six Liberal MPs voted against them with the Greens and the Labor senators, leading to its defeat.
As a result, the bill that was passed in the Senate on Wednesday only provides a basic protection for religious ministers. 43 senators voted for the bill, 12 voted against, and 17 senators abstained from voting. We applaud the senators who did the right thing by the Australian people and did not support this inadequate legislation.
The Dean Smith bill will be now debated in the House of Representatives starting next Monday.
Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have both stated that they are committed to religious freedom. This claim will be tested next week as we watch closely what actions they are willing to take to protect freedoms for the 5 million people who voted "No" to same-sex marriage.
In February of this year, there was a Senate inquiry on the exposure draft of the SSM bill. The conclusion of the Senate inquiry was that, while there was a consensus that there should be exemptions for ministers of religion as a bare minimum, much more is needed beyond that.
It concluded that: “It is clear that should legislation be enacted to change the definition of marriage, careful attention is required to understand and deliver a balanced outcome that respects the human rights of all Australians if the nation is to continue to be a tolerant and plural society where a diversity of views is not only legal but valued.”
In other words, when legislating for same-sex marriage, the parliament needs to be careful to understand people’s concerns on both sides, and it has to be careful to balance competing rights to make sure Australia can continue to be:
A tolerant, and plural society, where different views on marriage are not only legal, but valued.
We believe that the majority of Australians would indeed wish for our society to continue in this way. In fact, the polls show most Australians do not wish freedoms of speech, religion, conscience and parental rights to be removed with the legislation of same-sex marriage.
You can contact Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and your local MP immediately to let them know that as our elected representative, they should represent the genuine concerns you and many others have about the need for freedoms to be protected.
Emphasise to them that the protection of freedoms needs to be addressed now, rather than delayed until next year.
反对党领袖Bill Shorten Bill.Shorten.MP@aph.gov.au
Their contact details can be found below:
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull https://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Bill.Shorten.MP@aph.gov.au
You can find the contact for your local MP using this webpage https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/