Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee
This is not my first speech. I rise to speak to amendment (3) moved by the Liberal Democrats to the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017. I have already foreshadowed that I will be voting against the bill which this amendment would alter. As I previously indicated to the Senate, I strongly believe marriage is a sacred union of a man and a woman for the purpose of having children. Because of this, I oppose a change to the definition of this institution to allow the solemnising of same-sex unions to be called 'marriage'. However, in anticipation that the marriage amendment bill will pass anyway, I rise to support this very necessary amendment by Senator Leyonhjelm.
As the marriage amendment bill stands, apart from its questionable merits as a radical social change, same-sex marriage risks being a Trojan horse for yet another wave of political correctness. Without this amendment, once the bill is passed, those who object to participating in same-sex marriage activities will face the full force of the Sex Discrimination Act. The fact is that, if we really valued personal freedom in this country, we wouldn't have the Sex Discrimination Act or the Racial Discrimination Act at all. However, if anything can be done to stop yet another restriction on freedom and choice being imposed by these acts, we should grab the opportunity with both hands.
The purpose of the same-sex marriage bill does, of course, contain limited provisions to prevent ministers of religion being forced to solemnise same-sex unions against their religious beliefs. This, at least, is mildly reassuring. However, no protection is afforded to those who simply have a conscientious objection to participating in same-sex marriage activities. Australians who object need to be protected from the sex discrimination commissars and same-sex marriage extremists. We know from past experience that these radicals will seek to use legal recognition of same-sex marriage as a way to try to force others to validate their personal lifestyle choices. This has happened overseas. For instance, a cake maker in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple ended up before the Supreme Court. A 72-year-old florist who declined to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding was found to have violated Washington state antidiscrimination laws. The owners of a farm in upstate New York who didn't want a lesbian couple married on their family-friendly property were fined $13,000 after the state legalised same-sex marriage in 2012.
We need to make sure that this kind of politically correct oppression does not occur here. As an independent-minded Aussie, your conscientious objection to participating in solemnising same-sex marriage should not require you to take holy orders in order to avoid being hauled in front of the courts. Senator Leyonhjelm's amendment will exempt objection to involvement in same-sex marriage celebrations from the Sex Discrimination Act. This will give protection not only for civil celebrants but also for the cake makers, florists and venue operators who may not want their services or venues to be used for these purposes. As a former publican myself, I particularly appreciate this. It is one thing to pass a law to allow consenting adults to solemnise their relationships, but it is quite another to pass a law to force the rest of us to be solemnised as well.