Senator to introduce marriage equality bill immediately pending 'yes' vote

James Paterson at a Senate public hearing for the postal survey

James Paterson at a Senate public hearing for the postal survey

The attorney general, George Brandis, has said he will move a new amendment to allow civil celebrants to reject same-sex weddings as the Coalition gears up for a legislative fight about extending religious protections beyond the cross-party bill.

Mr Brandis expects the Senate will deal with the bill by the end of the next sitting week on November 30.

But Law Council said the Paterson bill represented an "extraordinary and perilous" winding back of anti-discrimination laws under the cover of marriage equality.

He released a statement vowing to work with parliament on amendments to ensure the "strongest possible" protections of freedom would be in the final legislation.

The bill will be introduced by Smith, who will be joined by Liberal senators Linda Reynolds and Jane Hume, as well as Labor's Penny Wong and Louise Pratt, the Greens' Richard Di Natale and Janet Rice, Skye Kakoschke-Moore from the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had already ruled out any chance of the Patterson bill succeeding.

He will propose a motion backed by several Liberal, Labor, and Green senators to begin debate on Thursday (16 November) morning.

Senator Smith's bill, which has cross-party support, contains provisions so that ministers of religion could not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages.

Some 22 bills seeking same-sex marriage have been introduced into the federal parliament since 2004. He argued his bill would preserve the freedoms of all Australians.

"If a "Yes" result is confirmed this week, this bill could be passed by the parliament as quickly as any other bill", Senator Paterson said.

Tasmanian marriage equality advocate Rodney Croome claimed the bill "would effectively allow businesses to hang a "no gays" sign in the window ".

"It is clear the majority of senators believe my colleague Senator Dean Smith's bill is where we should start".

He added "now it is up to us - here in the Parliament of Australia... that must be our commitment".

Brandis said this was not a government position but his private view.

"Think very, very clearly about entrenching discrimination in order to appease your colleagues, rather than listening to the Australian people, who spoke very, very clearly today".

"There's an inevitability about the passage of this bill", Senator O'Sullivan said.

In contrast, Smith's bill allows exemptions only for religious organizations and ministers.

Alex Greenwich from Australian Marriage Equality said that'd be a backward step.

Tiernan Brady, the director of Australian Marriage Equality, told HuffPost Australia last week the religious freedoms argument ran counter-intuitive to the idea of having a vote for marriage equality.

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