Thursday, December 07, 2017

Australia Approves Same-Sex Marriage

As reported by the New Zealand Herald, Australia's Parliament has given final approval to same-sex marriage. The vote comes after a government mail survey showed that 61.6% of Australians favored marriage equality.  (See prior posting.) Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017  passed the House of Representatives yesterday.  It was approved 43-12 last week by the Senate.  It now goes to the Governor General for royal assent.  The Herald reports further:
Amendments meant to safeguard freedoms of speech and religion for gay-marriage opponents were all rejected, though those issues may be considered later. The government has appointed a panel to examine how to safeguard religious freedoms once gay marriage is a reality in Australia....
The current bill allows churches and religious organizations to boycott gay weddings without violating Australian anti-discrimination laws.
Existing civil celebrants can also refuse to officiate at gay weddings, but celebrants registered after gay marriage becomes law would not be exempt from the anti-discrimination laws.
One of the rejected amendments would have ensured Australians could speak freely about their traditional views of marriage without fear of legal action.
ABC News says that the first same-sex weddings could take place as early as January 9.