The Australian Senate passed the same-sex marriage bill today 43-12 in favour. The bill will now go to the Lower House for more debate and possible amendments before passed as law.
In the legislation that passed, the definition of marriage will change from the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others to ‘the union of two people to the exclusion of all others’.
The ABC reports that the legislation will allow ‘religious ministers the right to refuse to marry a same-sex couple’, on the grounds that same-sex marriage is contrary to their religious beliefs, or the beliefs of their church. Churches will also be allowed to refuse gay couples wanting to marry ‘access to their facilities’.
New celebrants will not be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples however a grandfathering clause will allow celebrants who are already registered to object.
The bill that was passed does not make any specific reference to freedom of speech for people who wish to ‘speak freely’ against same-sex marriage nor will it allow conscientious objectors the right to openly discriminate or refuse service to same-sex couples wanting to marry.