Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee
I rise to indicate my support for the One Nation amendments on sheet 8332. All non-government celebrants should be free to refuse to solemnise a marriage. A secular state should not give privileges to religion. Celebrants who wish to specialise in solemnising same-sex marriages should be free to do so. Religion should not be afforded a privileged place in a secular state. People who are not religious still have convictions and they still have freedom of conscience, as much as people who have religious convictions do. People who are not religious should not be treated as second-class citizens. If we refuse to extend the freedom to refuse to solemnise a marriage to all non-government civil celebrants, we'll be left in a situation where celebrants who only want to solemnise straight marriages can do so under the cover of religion, but celebrants who only want to solemnise same-sex marriages will not be able to do this, as there's no religious cover for such a decision. We will, in fact, be hurting the gay community.
There is another aspect about Senator Hanson's amendment that I think no-one has yet drawn attention to, and that is item (2) on sheet 8332. It amends the objects clause in Senator Dean Smith's bill, replacing the reference to 'civil celebrants' with a reference to 'authorised celebrants'. 'Authorised celebrants' is the term used in the Marriage Act. There is no reference to civil celebrants in the Marriage Act. For anyone who wants to oppose this amendment, including item (2), you need to say why you prefer a reference to civil celebrants rather than authorised celebrants. In particular, I ask Senator Wong: why do you prefer the term 'civil celebrant' to 'authorised celebrant', which is what Senator Smith's bill will introduce? Where is the term 'civil celebrant' defined? Does a civil celebrant include a state or territory officer authorised to solemnise a marriage? If not, why would you support an objects clause that excludes marriages solemnised by state and territory officers? Does a civil celebrant include a Defence Force chaplain? If so, doesn't this turn the term 'civil' on its head? If not, why would you support an objects clause that excludes marriages solemnised by Defence Force chaplains? I prefer my amendment, which permits civil celebrants to refuse to solemnise a marriage, but I think this particular amendment of Senator Hanson's does address this issue of definitions well. If it were to succeed, I would withdraw mine, because it does address this issue of the definition.
The CHAIR: Before I move to the amendment, I will just explain that there are two parts to the amendment that Senator Hanson moved. The first question I am going to ask is whether or not senators agree with amendments (1) to (3) and (6) to (9) on sheet 8332. The second question would go to items (5), (8) to (17) and (64) and part 4 of schedule 1—that they stand as printed—and those items are (4), (5), (10) and (11) on sheet 8332. We are dealing with the first part. The question is that amendments (1) to (3) and (6) to (9) on sheet 8332 be agreed to.