The Australian Senate passed a bill today to legalize homosexual “marriage,” but it turned down conservative efforts to amend the bill that would allow religious business owners such as bakers, florists, and musicians to opt out of participating in same-sex weddings.
Attempts to grant religious freedom to non-clergy to opt out of solemnizing homosexual “marriages” also were rebuffed, as were parental rights amendmentsthat would allow parents of public school children to opt out of class instruction normalizing homosexuality.
The bill passed the Senate easily in a 43-12 vote. Upon passage, cheers went up both in the Senate chamber and outside on the streets, where gays and lesbians praised the legislation.
The Senate vote was a confirmation of the nation’s postal referendum, in which nearly 62 percent of 12 million respondents favored legalizing gay “marriage.” Australia has a population of more than 24 million.The strategy of a non-binding postal referendum was a last-ditch effort by homosexual activists after failing more than 20 times to get either the upper or lower houses of government to legalize gay “marriage.”
The popular mail-in worked to pressure reluctant legislators into voting for legalization. The bill is now expected to also pass in the House of Representatives and be signed into law, perhaps as early as next week. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he wanted to fast-track the law by December 7.
People of faith repeatedly warned that the law must include protections for religious objectors. “I do not think we have made these changes in a way which advances rights fully,” National Party Senator Matt Canavan said.
Conservatives hope to amend the legislation in the lower house to give religious liberty to those whose sincerely held beliefs differ with the gay agenda. Without such an amendment, only recognized clergy are exempt from government enforcement of participation in same-sex “marriage.”
Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said he was “deeply disappointed” with the results of the national referendum, predicting the “further deconstruct(ion) of marriage and family in Australia.”
The archbishop commented how the postal vote was “a David and Goliath struggle with politicians, corporates, celebrities, journalists, professional and sporting organizations drowning out the voices of ordinary Australians and pressuring everyone to vote Yes.”
If the lower house works as fast as the upper house did and Turnbull’s promise of a law by Christmas is fulfilled, Australia will become the 26th nation to legalize homosexual “marriage.” As recently as 1997, some Australian states still had laws against sodomy.
“The Australian people voted to lessen discrimination, not to extend it, and we, the senate, have respected that vote by rejecting amendments which sought to extend discrimination,” openly lesbian Labor Senator Penny Wong said.
Wong described the Senate vote as a “remarkable achievement” and an “historic event.” Australia’s first open homosexual woman said, “This parliament, this country, accept you for who you are … It says you’re one of us.”
Openly gay Senator Dean Smith commented, “In the course of a generation, we have seen the LGBTI community move from rejection to tolerance, from tolerance to acceptance, and from acceptance to embrace.”
Attorney General George Brandis said, “By passing this bill, we are saying to those vulnerable young people there is nothing wrong with you,” he said. “You are not unusual. You are not abnormal. You are just you.”