The Senate Could Begin Debating Marriage Equality As Soon As Tomorrow

Well. Today’s the day. At 10am on the dot, we’ll know whether Australia voted Yes on same-sex marriage. But there’s still a key question: if the country does the right thing and votes Yes, when will we actually get marriage equality?

Well, the Senate could begin debating it as early as tomorrow. Liberal senator Dean Smith, who has authored a bill which would legislate marriage equality, has asked Parliament to begin the debate on Thursday. His bill has support as a “starting point” from many of his colleagues, as well as Labor, the Greens, independent Derryn Hinch and the Nick Xenophon Team.

On the other side of the coin, the conservative bill backed by James Patterson – which was roundly slammed when its contents were released on Monday – doesn’t look like it has much of a chance of getting up. Malcolm Turnbull echoed the thoughts of many Australians, who believe that the bill would have entrenched discrimination into legislation, in a statement from Manila:

I don’t believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government would not countenance the making legal, discrimination that is unlawful today […] I think it would have virtually no prospect of getting through the parliament.

Expect a fight, though. The Tony Abbott camp in Parliament are very keen to slice ribbons off any prospective bill in the name of protecting freedom of conscience and religion. Funnily enough, that seemingly innocent demand usually ends in legislated protections for open bigotry. Whodathunkit?

Either way, we’ll know what the next fight is at 10am. Bring it on.