In an ideal world, the moment the results came back from the postal survey, a bill making the definition of marriage agnostic to gender would have been punted directly into parliament and subsequently sailed through both houses with the speed and grace of an Olympic diver entering the water. But this is not an ideal world. This is the world where The Big Bang Theory is one of the highest grossing TV shows.

Instead of a magical legislative celebration of joy and love and gayness, we get a shitty parliamentary war of attrition as conservatives try and compensate for their crushing loss in the survey by making life as miserable as possible for the queer people who will finally get to marry.

Terrified that Australia‘s bigots will butt up against the country’s pesky anti-discrimination laws, the new marriage equality fight is over who is allowed to discriminate against gay people and how much. As it stands, the level being debated ranges from ‘somewhat’ to ‘fucken heaps’.

Today saw debate about Liberal senator James Paterson‘s proposed amendments to his colleague Dean Smith‘s marriage equality bill – you might remember those as the completely nonsense ones that sought to lump a bunch of weird general social conservative views in with marriage for the sake of making sure they became immune to anti-discrimination law.

Paterson’s amendments also quite notably also recommended retaining the ‘traditional’ definition of marriage (puke) but adding a second, separate definition for the heterosexually challenged among us. The borderline-translucent Paterson has been mystifyingly insisting this somehow allows for less discrimination, but Greens senator Janet Rice succinctly and beautifully laid into this ridiculous notion when the amendments were debated this morning:

You really have to wonder whether it’s satire that we’re talking about here. Here we are, having just gone through this process over the last two months to remove discrimination – campaigning for equality – and this would strike at absolutely the heart of that.

Rice argued that ‘separate but equal’ treatment is still a perversion of equality:

It would be saying you’ve got two types of marriages, really. Some people are suggesting “Why can’t we just have another name for it, like garriage?“, saying you have proper, ordinary, sensible, normal marriage and you’ve got this ‘other’ marriage. That is discrimination. That is dividing the community.

That is saying that heterosexual people – men and women who get married – they are normal, but if you are a lesbian, a gay person, a bisexual, a transgender or intersex person, you are separate, you are different, and that your marriage does not have the same status, the same standing, considered the same as other marriage. It would be introducing a massive discrimination into our law for that to happen.

You can watch the clip below:

Mercifully, the Senate agreed with Rice, voting the amendments down 41 to 24, with Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team, Derryn Hinch, and a handful of Liberal senators (including Simon Birmingham, Jane Hume, Linda Reynolds, and Nigel Scullion) all voting against.

There are still further amendments to be debated, most of them bad, so we’re not out of it yet.

Image: Twitter / Janet Rice