Contributed by Adam Carlton
The good news is that the marriage equality bill presented before the Senate has been carried by a 43-12 vote. All amendments aiming to water it down were defeated by a similar margin.
The bill must now go to the House of Representatives. Bills are normally presented here first and then sent to the Senate. But on this occasion, facing disunity within the ranks and the dual citizenship crisis, Malcolm Turnbull closed shop till next week.
Even so, it gets up next week and the strength of the opposition to the amendments, will make it hard to breathe new life into attempts to make changes.
One of the changes sought by opponents of the marriage equality had sought to provide two separate definitions of marriage, which defied the concept of equality.
A second change included the right of parents to withdraw their children from classes, teaching on matters on marriage that they disagreed with. This change would have breached the concept of equality, and in any case, school curriculum has no business in the marriage act.
There was a measure to protect a person or organisation, holding a “traditional” view of marriage, wishing to opt out of participating in a same sex marriage.
Then, there was a statement to be included, about freedom of religion and allowing civil celebrants to refuse to perform same sex marriages, because of religious or conscientious beliefs.
The amendments were moved by the government’s Attorney-General George Brandis. If they had been supported, the marriage equality bills would have been rendered almost inoperative.
An even worse result would have been that the proposals would have sanctified discrimination and this would have set a precedent, which could easily lead to discrimination being legitimised in other places.
Marriage equality is a change that is sweeping across the world and it will become the new norm. It does bring a challenge for those who feel that it goes against the teachings of their faith. others across all faiths do not feel the threat. But for those who do, this does not make it any less real. They need time to adjust to change.
This is not the first time this situation has turned up. There were those who on the basis of faith did not consider they could treat people of a different colour as equals, or did not support giving women the vote. whites were created in the image of God and women were ordained to keep house and not be concerned with worldly matters. Change did come and those who felt threatened good used to the change. Marriage equality will go through the same process.
There will be more attempts to stop it. Change might even be slowed down. It will not be stopped.
One day, people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.
It is now time to get on with it, to correct a wrong that has been visited on a part of our community and to generate tolerance and respect for others.
With this under the belt, we can all turn our attention to other matters crying out for answers.
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