VIDEO: Senator Dean Smith's moving speech about his same-sex marriage bill

Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Debate over changes to Australia’s Marriage Act so same-sex people can marry got underway in the Senate today.

Liberal senator Dean Smith, whose name features on the private member’s bill to change the Marriage Act, kicked off debate today with a speech about his own experience and support for the change.

The Western Australian identifies as both a Christian and gay man, and explained he had a crucifix on his office desk.

Conservative colleagues from the “no” side of the debate have already flagged plans to amend the bill, saying they want to protect both religious institutions and “conscientious objectors” from being forced to take part in a same-sex marriage.

The Smith bill has cross-party support, having been hammered out several months ago in meetings between the Coalition, Labor, Greens and other crossbenchers.

Introducing his Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 in a second reading this morning, Smith said was it fair for everyone.

“This bill seeks to remove existing discrimination from the Marriage Act, protect religious institutions and does not reintroduce commercial discrimination,” he said.

“Let me be clear. Amendments that seek to address other issues, or which seek to deny gay and lesbian Australians with the full rights, responsibilities and privileges they already have will be strenuously opposed.

“Australians did not vote for equality before the law so that equality before the law that is already gained could be stripped away.”

The bill advances the civic rights of all Australians and provides protections for religious institutions, Smith said.

“Nothing in this bill takes away an existing right, nor does any of it diminish an existing civil freedom. The change proposed in this bill is not revolutionary. It is evolutionary.”

Here is his speech.

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