As was predicted the House of Representatives has today passed the Dean Smith same sex marriage bill unamended. It was speculated that the passage of the bill may be delayed due to yesterday afternoon the House instead debating which of its MPs should be refereed to the High Court.
But given the expectation that the bill should be passed before the House rises for the year second reading speeches resumed last night and debate and voting on the amendments occurred this morning. Before Question Time Manager of Opposition Tony Burke joked they would delay bringing down the government until next year so that the bill could be finalized. MPs also would not like having to extend the sitting calendar and remain in Canberra for any longer than scheduled.
None of the amendments to protect religious freedoms and parental rights were adopted, despite Labor having a conscience vote on same sex marriage all its MPs were bound to vote down the amendments. A conscience vote was available to all Coalition MPs regarding all considerations of the same sex marriage bill. Enough of their MPs voted against the amendments for them to all be voted down. Malcolm Turnbull supported some of the amendments but abstained from others.
The LGBT lobby had descended on Canberra to see the passage of the bill. Now that it has has passed the House it now only needs to receive royal assent from the Governor-General to become law. There will be a one month delay between the passage of the bill and it being enacted as law and overseas same sex marriages will instantly become recognized in Australia.
The Turnbull Government in effort to demonstrate it is taking concerns about religious freedom seriously has set up a panel headed by former Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock to investigate the strength of religious freedom in Australia and recommend any changes. It is due to the report in March 2018. However given that the government does not have a majority in the Senate passing any extra religious protections, albeit separate from the Marriage Act will be a difficult ask.
Now that the issue of same sex marriage has been resolved by the parliament following the outcome of the Marriage Law Postal Survey many are hoping our politicians can move onto focusing on more pressing public policy matters. One also wonders what the LGBT lobby will do now that as they call it marriage equality has now been achieved what they will do now? Will they disburse and pursue other causes or find new forms of LGBT discrimination to lobby over?
The Turnbull Government will also feel that that now the issue has been resolved they can reshape their agenda for the new year and maybe begin to claw back their deficit in the polls. But the passing of this bill is unlikely to be the page turner they seek.