Following an emotion-charged debate in Australia’s Senate, lawmakers voted Friday to pass the marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage, but face a possible high court challenge to the laws.
Christian Members of Parliament (MPs) and community leaders, who rallied in Canberra last week, are said to have been the driving force behind the bill, according to Senator Brian Greg.
Senator Ron Boswell, who attended the rally in parliament, said the bill made an important statement.
“Marriage is about love – I’ve had 40 years of it,” Boswell told a local newspaper. “But it is also about commitment, about creation, about providing the right environment for nurturing children.
“Through this legislation the government is reconfirming Australia’s commitment to marriage, its commitment to families and its commitment to our children and grandchildren.
“We are recognizing that marriage is a public good, not just a private benefit.”
Manager of opposition business in the Senate Joe Ludwig said lawmakers supported the change because it was in line with the common law definition of marriage and was consistent with marriage’s social and religious history.
Meanwhile, members of minor parties opposing the bill called the day “Black Friday,” slamming Prime Minister John Howard’s conservative coalition for trying to rush the amendment through and criticizing the official opposition Labor Party for supporting the ban.
Senator Bob Brown of the Green Party, accused Howard of “hate legislating” and refused to apologize when the Senate president describe it as “unparliamentary” language.
Rodney Croome, spokesman for the Equal Rights Network said that although the bill was passed, it may be unconstitutional.
“Our lawyers are exploring the possibility that the constitutional basis for the new law is too weak to sustain it,” Croome said.
“We are seriously considering the possibility of a High Court challenge.”
The bill, passed by the Senate vote of 39-7, will insert into the country’s 43-year-old Marriage Act the words: “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
Also to be inserted is a provision stating: “Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnized in foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognized as marriage in Australia.