Rival bill allows Australian wedding providers to refuse gay couples

Religious protection fight looms over same-sex marriage bill

Members of parliament will then be free to vote on the bill, which was developed by West Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith.

Attorney-General George Brandis is one of those who believe people should not be obliged to marry same-sex couples against the teachings of their church, but said exemptions needed to be regulated to prevent discrimination.

The one time you're called to actually vote in line with the wishes of the Australian re The 7 electorate and you wuss out.

Ultimately it was up to parliament to decide which bill was the "vehicle to facilitate" the parliamentary debate.

"But the polls have been pretty consistent and it really does seem that in commentary right across the political spectrum the expectation is that there will be a 'yes" vote, ' she said.

The combination of MPs backing the bill will likely give it the crucial numbers needed to pass the Senate and go to the lower house.

Senator Smith on Tuesday gave notice he would introduce the bill to the Senate on Thursday, presuming the "yes" vote succeeds. The legislation allows clergy and religious organisations to refuse to marry gay couples.

The bill also enshrines protections for people who hold views that marriage is only between a man and a woman, that sex should only be between married men and women, and that gender is only binary. "I don't think their votes should mean we shouldn't have same-sex marriage, but I do think that their freedoms should be protected and I think my bill is a bill that best does that", he said. "The Smith bill is a balanced bill". "In the future, could they be taken to court?"

Under Senator Paterson's plan, it would also allow any person or business to refuse to co-operate with the staging of same-sex weddings, protecting them from civil litigation under discrimination laws.

Fiona McLeod SC from the Law Council of Australia has condemned Paterson's bill, saying it takes Australians into "uncharted waters" by allowing people to refuse to provide goods and services on the grounds of "belief, thought and conscience".

"This is just another attempt to delay passing marriage equality".

In the case of a no result, the issue of same-sex marriage will be ruled out of parliament for the remainder of the Coalition's term, as well as the next, should they remain in government.

"There will be no he or she, no husband or wife, no father, mother - all these words will be gone", the Perth-based Christian pastor said.

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