Postal survey results: decision day arrives for same-sex marriage in Australia

The Senate could begin debating changes to the Marriage Act as early as this week if the'Yes vote comes out on top

The good news is that the turnaround time for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is going to be quite fast.

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been grilled relentlessly by reporters over his leadership in the same-sex marriage debate.

Paterson's bill, which has been roundly criticised by marriage equality supporters, would allow churches and celebrants to refuse to solemnise a same sex wedding, establish a limited right of conscientious objection so no-one is forced to participate in a same-sex wedding against their sincerely held beliefs, and would allow parents to take their children out of classes that conflict with their values.

The senator also argues it would preserve the freedoms of all Australians.

Senator Smith said he respected the right of "every parliamentarian" to bring legislation and amendments to Parliament, but believed his Bill was the best way forward.

"We won't stop working until every couple is equal under the law", the Equality Campaign, the group at the forefront of the Yes vote, said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Ideas of the kind Senator Paterson proposed "would have virtually no prospect of getting through the Parliament", Mr Turnbull added. "They won't be. constrained by any party policy".

Attorney General George Brandis, a marriage equality advocate, rejected exempting gay marriage from anti-discrimination laws. In his opinion piece Senator Paterson said printing companies, broadcasters and venues would be able to turn down business from either side of the debate.

"If you're a gay man or gay woman and you go into a florist and say, "I'd like to buy a bunch of flowers", it's just wrong and illegal for the florist to say, "I don't serve gay people" - just as it would be wrong or illegal for the florist to say to an Indigenous person, "I don't serve Indigenous people".

It is unclear when Senator Paterson will introduce his bill into the Upper House for debate or whether he will use the plan as the basis for amendments to Senator Smith's version.

"That's why it is necessary to extend the same principle applied in other same-sex marriage bills beyond ministers of religion to anyone else directly connected to a wedding. A yes vote can not and should not and must not become a moment where others try to unravel existing anti-discrimination law".

If the result is Yes, Liberal and Labor MPs will have a free vote in Parliament.

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