Marriage equality advocates are seen during the 'Sea of Hearts' event supporting Marriage Equality outside Parliament House in Canberra.
Marriage equality advocates are seen during the 'Sea of Hearts' event supporting Marriage Equality outside Parliament House in Canberra. LUKAS COCH

Christensen may 'abstain' from voting yes

MARRIAGE equality is set to become law in Australia with the same sex marriage survey delivering an overwhelming 61.6% "yes vote”.

The Dawson electorate was among the 133 electorates which voted yes, albeit with a lower 55.1% yes vote.

However, Dawson MP George Christensen's support for a same-sex marriage bill is not guaranteed.

Prior to the same-sex marriage survey result, Mr Christensen said he "would not vote against his electorate's wishes on this issue”, however this morning he revealed that he may abstain if adequate religious freedoms are not in place.

"Regarding the marriage survey, I said repeatedly and specifically that I would not vote against my electorate's wishes. The result in the seat of Dawson is lower support than the national average for changing marriage but it is still to change it,” he posted to Facebook.

"As such, if the Patterson bill is put forward or the protections that are in it are put into another marriage bill, I will vote yes. Otherwise, if a bill comes forward that is deficient in protections for people of faith, conscientious objectors and parents (when it comes to what's taught in schools), then I will abstain, which keeps faith with my commitment - I will not vote against the wishes of my electorate.”

"During the campaign, we were repeatedly told that changing the definition of marriage would not impact upon peoples' religious liberty or contentious beliefs and that it would not impact upon what was taught in the classroom nor the rights of parents in that respect.

"Given this is what was said by those pushing the yes line, we now need to ensure that any law changing the definition of marriage enshrines these rights that we were told would not be impacted by changing marriage. Any argument against such protections proves that the yes advocates were lying and that this change will have those negative impacts we were concerned about.”

The survey recorded a high 79.5% turnout of 16,006,180 voters.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier in the year said same-sex marriage would "sail through the parliament” by Christmas if a yes vote was delivered.

West Australian Senator Dean Smith is expected to introduce his private members bill tomorrow.

The voluntary and non-binding survey does not compel all members of parliament to vote in favour of the social change.


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