“Earlier this year there was a Senate Inquiry with extensive public consultation which produced a historic cross-party consensus on the principles that should be the basis of legislation for marriage equality. That consensus represented a genuine attempt by people from right across the political spectrum to work together to deliver equality for all Australians.
“These principles are expressed in the balanced approach of the Bill proposed by Senator Dean Smith and co-sponsored by Trent Zimmerman, Warren Entsch, Trevor Evans and Tim Wilson. Importantly, the Bill both allows same-sex couples access to civil marriage and also protects the religious celebration of marriage.
“Ministers of Religion will be able to continue to conduct ceremonies in accordance with their beliefs – just as they always have – whether that is refusing to marry divorcees, people of different faiths or same-sex couples.
“In line with the Senate report, the Bill proposes a new category of Religious Marriage Celebrant that includes ministers from small, independent and emerging churches that are not officially recognised religions. The small number of existing civil celebrants who want to perform marriages in accordance with particular religious beliefs can elect to be transferred to this new category. New civil marriage celebrants will not be able to nominate to join this category or discriminate against same-sex couples.
“These elements of the Bill achieve a workable compromise by allowing the ‘grandfathering’ of civil celebrants with religious objections, while ensuring that same-sex couples have the certainty and dignity of knowing that civil celebrants are required to uphold civil law at all times. They are in line with the principles of the consensus report of the Senate Inquiry.
“This is an opportunity to unite the country in achieving marriage equality. It’s time to get this done — Australians have waited long enough for marriage equality. ”
– Mxxxxxxxxx, Marriage Equality volunteer