The Australian people have voted decisively in the Marriage Postal Survey. There is a clear majority who support same-sex marriage. I congratulate the YES campaign on their victory. I know this result carries significant meaning for many Australians who have long campaigned for a change to the Marriage Act. Importantly, this result gives them both a legal and cultural mandate for change.
During the campaign, I argued in favour of retaining the current definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. I also voted NO in the Marriage Postal Survey, alongside 4,873, 987 Australians. I thank them for their support.
We now have the task of legislating same-sex marriage in the Australian Parliament. Out of respect for the Australian people, I will not be voting against the legislation to change the Marriage Act. Rather, as I have previously said on the public record, it is my intention to abstain because I cannot vote against my conscience. The outcome of the legislative change is assured: my abstention will not obstruct the passage of same-sex marriage.
I intend, however, to vote for subsequent amendments to the Marriage Act to protect people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Freedom of religion, conscience and expression are foundational to our democratic tradition. Those with conscientious objections should enjoy the same protections as people who support same-sex marriage. This change in law should not compromise the freedom of the 4.87 million Australians who voted NO.
That is why I will fight to have strong legislative protections for individuals and organisations. Of particular concern is the freedom of parents and faith-based schools to raise and educate children in accordance with their moral and religious convictions. It is my hope that my Coalition colleagues share the same commitment to securing the freedoms of conscience, expression, religion and parental rights for all Australians.
Media Contact: David Birch 0468 393 762