Listen: Liberal MP Tim Wilson in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty
Who do you trust to provide better protections for religious freedom in the event that same sex marriage is legalised — the Coalition or the Labor Party?
That’s the question being posed by one of the Liberal MPs behind the yes campaign in the marriage reform debate, Tim Wilson MP.
Mr Wilson, a former Human Rights Commissioner, has spent several years trying to find outcomes that would be agreeable to religious groups. However he has told Open House of his frustration that, whatever protections are offered, in the end those groups still won’t support a change in the law.
He also argues that rather than a redefinition of marriage, extending marriage to same sex couples was designed to uphold the institution. As the yes and no campaigns begin in earnest, the religious freedom question remains at the heart of concerns for churches and many Christians.
Attorney General George Brandis, a yes advocate, told Sky News that the issue at hand is simply a change to the definition of marriage. He and others say that the religious freedom questions would be a matter for the eventual legislation, and could be negotiated through the normal legislative process. Senator Brandis said the draft Bill circulated by Liberal Senator Dean Smith, Tim Wilson and others, already contains significant protections.
However as Open House has discussed, many groups, including Christian schools, say it falls well short of what they had hoped. Given the importance of the religious freedom issue, would it not be in the interests of the yes case to negotiate or provide assurances now, ahead of the plebiscite?
That’s one of the questions Open House put to Tim Wilson in a wide ranging, frank and open conversation.