OUR SAY: The yes vote prevailed, now the hard work starts

No matter where you stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, there was a collective sige of relief when the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the results of the national plebiscite.

No longer is the topic of who we marry and why we want to marry them up for public scrutiny.

It's no longer acceptable for people opposed to same-sex unions to express their negative, discriminatory and sometimes hurtful opinions under the smoke screen of the plebiscite debate.

Same-sex couples are no longer the minority, they stand with the majority of Australians who want to see their relationships validated by law.

While we might all accept the verdict; it is far harder to accept why it cost $122 million of our money to confirm what every opinion poll in recent years has shown: that the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage.

Of course while plebiscite results may be known, now comes the job of getting legislation through both houses of parliament but there's no doubt it's not an easy road ahead.

The fact that there is talk of welcoming in equality legislation by opening the door to a raft of new discrimination is alarming.

Victorian Senator James Paterson is proposing in his Private Member’s Bill goes far beyond that.

Mr Paterson is proposing that the federal government proactively legislates to allow continued discrimination against same-sex couples even as the community calls for such discrimination to end.

So a baker or a florist does not want to do business with a same-sex couple? Too bad.

That same baker or florist would not be given the right to choose not to do business with a couple based on, say, their ethnic background or religion, so why should this be any different?

If the legalisation of same-sex marriage is to carry real meaning it cannot seek to differentiate between same-sex and traditional marriage. Where exemptions currently exist, they should continue to exist.

But where exemptions don’t exist, the government should not be creating them.

Senator Paterson’s bill is not about finding a compromise that would appease the general public but, rather, finding a compromise to appease all factions of a political party at war with itself.


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