Australia says YES – what now?

In recent weeks our tv’s, radio channels and newsfeeds have been inundated with the results of the same-sex postal survey. In the unlikely chance you missed it, Australians voted 61.6 per cent in favour of same-sex marriage.

But what happens now?

In the words of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, it is now up to our federal representatives to “get it done” and confirm the non-binding postal survey result in legislation.

This happens via a bill, or in other words, a draft law that is debated in the House of Representatives and the Senate. If approved, the bill will then be sent to the Governor-general to be confirmed in legislation.

The current, widely supported bill of Liberal Senator Dean Smith, which has been said to strike the right balance between allowing same-sex couples to marry and protecting religious freedoms, has recently been approved by the Senate. The bill was approved 43 votes to 12 and is the furthest any same-sex marriage bill has progressed in federal Parliament.

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives next week.

A current guide to the bill, as approved in the Senate, is as follows:

  • The definition of marriage will be changed to “the union of two people to the exclusion of all others,” replacing the previous definition which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • Ministers of religion have the right to refuse to participate in same-sex marriage celebrations on religious grounds if they so wish. Similarly, churches or religious organisations can refuse access to their facilities for same-sex weddings.
  • Civil celebrants will not be able to refuse to participate in same-sex marriage celebrations (although celebrants who are already registered will be able to object).

The above bill is expected to pass easily in the House of Representatives next week.

Laws are constantly evolving and, as lawyers, we are constantly staying up to date with new laws and amendments to existing laws which might affect our clients.

If you have any questions about changes to laws that might affect you in your personal or business life then please contact one of our team of lawyers at McLaughlins Lawyers, your Gold Coast Lawyers.

Author: Alex Hamlyn

Director: Ian Kennedy

Date: 29/11/2017