As reported by the New Zealand Herald, Australia’s Parliament has given final approval to same-sex marriage. The vote comes after a government mail survey showed that 61.6% of Australians favored marriage equality. (See prior posting.) Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 passed the House of Representatives yesterday. It was approved 43-12 last week by the Senate. It now goes to the Governor General for royal assent. The Herald reports further:Amendments meant to safeguard freedoms of speech and religion for gay-marriage opponents were all rejected, though those issues may be considered later. The government has appointed a panel to examine how to safeguard religious freedoms once gay marriage is a reality in Australia….The current bill allows churches and religious organizations to boycott gay weddings without violating Australian anti-discrimination laws.Existing civil celebrants can also refuse to officiate at gay weddings, but celebrants registered after gay marriage becomes law would not be exempt from the anti-discrimination laws.One of the rejected amendments would have ensured Australians could speak freely about their traditional views of marriage without fear of legal action.ABC News says that the first same-sex weddings could take place as early as January 9.
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