Senator James Paterson announces his own conservative marriage bill

The marriage debate is about nothing more or less than whether fellow human beings can be allowed equality says Bill Hoffman

The marriage debate is about nothing more or less than whether fellow human beings can be allowed equality says Bill Hoffman. JOEL CARRETT

Dear Lifehacker, there's been a lot of coverage about the voting and enrolment deadlines for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

Interestingly, the ABS plans to reveal "participation rates" by age and gender for each electoral division, state/territory and national.

The postal vote was created to end more than a decade of political wrangling in Australia over the marriage equality issue.

"If we change the law to allow same-sex couples to marry, and we don't at the same time make provisions for religious freedom, then the. freedom of conscience and freedom of speech of some people could suffer", the Victorian Senator said on Monday.

Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said his personal instinct was the Smith bill was "probably a good starting position" because it had been subject to a cross-party Senate committee process.

The group said in a statement: "We feel that it is important to offer our community the support that will be needed at this historical moment, and hopefully the opportunity to celebrate as well".

"If we were not to implement a decision on marriage equality, the nation would throw up its hands and give up on the parliament", he told a meeting of opposition senators in Canberra.

Turnbull insisted this week that he would oppose efforts by some in his coalition to introduce laws that would allow for discrimination against same-sex weddings by businesses.

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"I don't believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government would not countenance the making legal, discrimination that is unlawful today", Mr Turnbull told reporters on Tuesday in Manila, before heading home.

"I hope Malcolm Turnbull shows some spine on this, I really do", she said.

Tennis great and same-sex marriage critic Margaret Court said she still believed the No vote would prevail, but warned a Yes victory would change Australia for ever.

In August, a month before the ballot papers were sent out, fears that the debate was turning toxic rose when a poster emblazoned "stop the fags" was put up in central Melbourne and flyers describing homosexuality as "a curse of death" were distributed in suburban Sydney.

But he cautioned against getting ahead of the postal survey result, warning there could be a surprise outcome.

If the "yes" vote does garner a majority, same-sex marriage could be legalised by the end of the year, with Turnbull previously saying he expected parliament to respect voters' wishes and act quickly.

Freedom of speech is also covered in the proposed bill, with the senator arguing that people should be able to say whatever they like about same sex couples as long as it was not harassment or threatening.

The draft Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) Bill 2017 to legalise same-sex marriage, released by Senator James Paterson yesterday, represents an "extraordinary and perilous" winding back of Australia's anti-discrimination laws under the cover of marriage equality, according to the Law Council of Australia.

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