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The same-sex marriage bill is already in the Senate
15 November 2017, 10:11 | Glen Norman
Liberal senator James Paterson has proposed an alternative same-sex marriage bill
SYDNEY == The head of Australia'smarriage equality push has slammed calls for anti-discrimination exemptions to be legalised under the guise of "religious freedoms" in the event of a yes vote in the postal survey, claiming such moves would be against the spirit of the support for the reform.
Conservative Liberal senator James Paterson on Monday released draft legislation, which he argues will preserve the freedoms of all Australians.
Any changes the lower house makes to the bill would need the approval of the Senate.
The Paterson bill ensures exemptions for ministers of religion and celebrants with genuine belief and allows a limited form of conscientious objection, and also seeks to protect freedom of speech and guarantee the right of parents to opt their children out of school classes that conflicted with their values.
The bill also enshrines protections for people who hold views that marriage is only between a man and a woman, that sex should only be between married men and women, and that gender is only binary.
The debate will continue the week of 27 November, with amendments reserved for that week.
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Senator Brandis added that the amendment was not, nor was there, a government position on the matter.
Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said his personal instinct was the Smith bill was "probably a good starting position" because it had been subject to a cross-party Senate committee process.
Senator Paterson believes state and federal anti-discrimination laws aren't strong enough.
Should the vote go that way, Smith is prepared to introduce his marriage equality bill immediately.
Senator Smith is aiming to introduce his bill to the upper house on Thursday.
"If there is a Yes result on Wednesday, Australians will have voted for true equality for all Australians - not an unfettered right to discriminate for people who voted No", said HRLC director of legal advocacy, Anna Brown.
Under Senator Paterson's plan, it would also allow any person or business to refuse to co-operate with the staging of same-sex weddings, protecting them from civil litigation under discrimination laws.
The Liberal National MP George Christensen said he would vote for a bill with protections inserted but would otherwise abstain, saying it "keeps faith with my commitment".
64% of those who voted backed Yes, according to a Guardian Australia poll, up 4% from similar polls in recent weeks.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would give the Smith bill "very favourable consideration".
Labor Senator Penny Wong and Greens leader Richard Di Natale both rose to respond to Senator Brandis' suggestion of new amendments, asserting that the bill put forward by Senator Smith had been agreed upon by a Senate Committee, and was shown to be acceptable by the will of the Australian people.
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