Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee
The bill does reflect on religious grounds, and we are actually now debating the rights of a religious celebrant or a non-religious celebrant. I also reflect that, as I said, nearly five million people have voted no. We are making decisions for the future of this country. Actually not everyone—and it's quite reflective—is agreeable with same-sex marriage. I see there is a lot of intolerance that is happening in this chamber. The whole fact is those people who are marriage celebrants are not taken into consideration for whatever reason, whether it be for religious or non-religious reasons. If they don't wish to marry a couple, they are going to be left wide open, because they may be sued or open to litigation. Surely there are going to be enough people out there who wish to marry couples of the same sex. Why is it not the case that you can't be a bit tolerant on this and accept those wishes of the people? I'm sure that there are a lot of people in your electorates who would agree with what I am saying.
We have allowed political correctness and minorities to start taking our country, and the people have not got the right to even have a view or an opinion. Have we got to a stage in this country where the thought police are actually controlling our views? We are not saying, 'Okay, you went to the plebiscite, and you asked the question: do you agree with same-sex marriage?' The public have voted, those who did vote, and 61 per cent said yes. Now, you are actually saying that you can't have an opinion if you are a marriage celebrant and that you must marry everyone; you must marry the same sex. What are you so worried about? Why are you so concerned about this? Why don't you give those people those rights? Is it because you want to control people and put them down? These people have a right to say no. They have a right to an opinion. Has it come to us losing our democracy in this country? That is what is happening. And it will flow on to other areas. I'm talking about the education system and everything. It's happening here. We don't have any control any longer.
You make it in regard to religion too. I refer you to section 116 of the Constitution:
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion—
basically its saying that you can't control anyone over their religious beliefs—
and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office …
Under that category, you are saying that people can only be religious to deny that right to marry a couple. But under our Constitution, it says there cannot be any religious test. Regardless of whether anyone wants to put themselves down and say, 'I am of a religion', under our Constitution they can't do that, because you are forcing a religious test on them. That is under our Constitution, so you want to think clearly about this. You can't force anyone to have a religious test. So if a marriage celebrant says they are not of a certain religion, they have the right then to deny marrying a same-sex couple.
I go back to it again: it is clear the way it is under the act now that it is an authorised celebrant. Leave it at that. Let the people make their own choices and you will get the support of the people. If you go out and impose it on people, you are going to open it up to litigation. There are going to be concerns for those people, even for the rights and benefits of same-sex married people. You are going to have people in this country who will actually advertise they are quite happy to marry same-sex couples. But for the ones who don't want to marry them, give them the right to deny it. I'm sure that if a couple wants to get married and they know that a celebrant really doesn't want to marry them, they wouldn’t want to have them anyway. Give them that right from both sides to have that choice. Thank you.