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Byron Shire
May 19, 2021

Marriage amendments slapped down in Senate

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Same-sex marriage legislation is closing in on passing the Senate unchanged after conservative MPs had a range of amendments to the legislation slapped down.

The upper house will continue to consider changes to a bill to legalise same-sex marriage on Wednesday after all proposed amendments were comprehensively defeated as parliament sat late on Tuesday.

Attorney-General George Brandis, who made an impassioned speech about the historic bill, co-authored an amendment with same-sex marriage opponent Matt Canavan which was voted down.

Their proposal would have protected religious freedoms and allowed marriage celebrants to refuse to marry gay couples on religious grounds.

Senator Brandis is confident the bill will pass the Senate on Wednesday.

Amendments from Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Greens are still to be debated.

One Nation’s amendments also cover celebrants, as do Senator Leyonhjelm’s.

He also wants to give businesses the right to refuse to service same-sex weddings.

The Greens amendments, set to be opposed by Labor, include a provision to ensure state and territory anti-discrimination laws will be limited, as well as make it harder for civil celebrants to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

On Tuesday, the upper house blocked a move to create two definitions of marriage – one between a man and a woman and the other as between two people.

That was included in one of five amendments proposed by conservative Liberal senators James Paterson and David Fawcett, which were comfortably defeated.

Other measures they proposed sought to:

* Allow parents to pull their children from classes if they don’t agree with their teachings on marriage

* Protect “relevant beliefs” around marriage

* Prevent governments and agencies from taking action against people with a traditional view of marriage.

* Allow chaplains and authorised officers in the defence force to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

Senators Paterson and Fawcett also tried to ensure charities retain their existing tax and government funding status even if they oppose same-sex marriage.

But the bill’s author, Liberal senator Dean Smith, tabled advice from the tax office and charities commissioner which said those fears were baseless

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