Australia’s first openly gay Conservative Federal politician is making moves to get marriage equality over the line.
Dean Smith became a Senator in 2012 and revealed he has been working behind the scenes on a Bill to deliver civil marriage equality in this parliament.
The Bill he is working on will allow religious exemptions for faith groups who do not agree with marriage equality.
Smith’s Liberal Party has stuck to its policy that the issue of marriage equality should be decided by a plebiscite – a public vote. Plebiscite enabling legislation was voted down last year in the Federal Senate.
The West Australian Senator now wants his party to allow a conscience vote on the issue.
‘The Bill is important because it will allow the Liberal Party to revisit the issue of marriage once and for all before the next election,’ he told Seven West’s Sunday Times.
‘I’m a traditionalist, so preserving and conserving institutions — be they the monarchy, the Constitution, parliamentary processes or indeed marriage — are significant aspects of my conservative view.
‘Legal recognition of marriage for same-sex couples would complement, not diminish, conservative values.’
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National marriage equality groups welcomed Smith’s plan.
‘Senator Dean Smith’s progress towards legislation shows the political will to deliver marriage equality in this parliament continues to grow,’ said Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality.
‘The recent multi-partisan and unanimously supported senate inquiry on marriage equality legislation provides a clear pathway for this reform.
‘We are grateful that Senator Smith, a key member of that inquiry, is working to turn that into a bill to allow all Australians to marry the person they love in the country we all cherish.’
Just.equal’s Rodney Croome congratulated the Senator but also asked the LGBTI community be consulted on religious exemptions.
‘We urge him to consult with the LGBTI community to ensure that any proposed exemptions do not go further than the LGBTI community would accept,’ he said.