MONDAY has been described as D-Day for the government as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recalls his MPs to Canberra to thrash out a new deal on same-sex marriage.
The issue has threatened to tear the Liberal Party apart after a bill to conduct a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage was voted down earlier this year.
Now a group of five “rebel” MPs – Dean Smith, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Warren Entsch and Trevor Evans – has threatened to cross the floor of parliament to vote with the Opposition and allow for same-sex marriage to be legalised.
They all put their name to a private members’ bill that was circulated to government MPs at the weekend.
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Under the proposed bill, both religious ministers and civil celebrants who refuse to marry same-sex couples will be protected from legal action. The bill will create a new category of “religious marriage celebrants” who can legally refuse to officiate a same-sex ceremony.
Business owners and service providers such as bakers, florists and photographers would need to prove they are linked to a “religious body” to reject a same-sex wedding.
The issue will come to a head at the Monday meeting in which reformers will push for a free vote in parliament and conservatives will attempt to put another delay into the process with a voluntary mail-in aimed at testing public support.