This week, immigration minister Peter Dutton predicted a win for the "yes" campaign in Australia's survey on same-sex marriage. Of course, his words are just that — a prediction. There are still weeks to run in the survey with around six million possible votes floating around Australia.
But as we wait for a yes/no verdict, the focus of the debate has drifted to another question: if Dutton is correct, what should Australia's bill for same-sex marriage look like? It's a more complicated question than just extending the definition of marriage from "a man and a woman" to "two adults" — there are questions, too, of who should be allowed to opt out and legally refuse to provide goods and services to a same-sex wedding.
While the "yes" campaign is loosely (though not unanimously) lined up behind a bill proposed by Liberal senator Dean Smith earlier this year, leaders of the "no" campaign have repeatedly refused to outline what kind of exemptions they want during the postal survey. At the Coalition for Marriage launch in Sydney last month, former minister Matthew Canavan scoffed at the suggestion that the "no" campaign should outline what it wants.
"I can give them a bill, I can give them an act of parliament, I can quote from it section by section and line by line — it's called the Marriage Act 1961. That's our bill!" he said, to applause. Prominent spokesperson Lyle Shelton has also said the onus is on the "yes" campaign to show its hand first.
"The 'yes' campaign can't say there are no consequences and then demand we detail protections for consequences they say don't exist," he tweeted on Thursday. Several influential "yes" groups — including The Equality Campaign, Australian Marriage Equality, Labor and the Greens — have lent support to Smith's bill.
It would continue the current exemption for religious ministers to refuse to marry a couple; provide a window for current civil celebrants to be afforded the same exemption; and allow religious organisations to deny goods and services to a same-sex couple wanting to wed, such as refusing to hire out a church hall. Read more via Buzzfeed