Advocates have expressed deep concern about what they say is a hidden trap in the proposed marriage equality plebiscite that could split the "yes" vote and sink the reform.
It has been reported
that Government briefing notes say that, following passage of legislation enabling a plebiscite, an amendment to the Marriage Act will be introduced that allows for unspecified religious freedom and conscientious objections.
There is no timeframe for the tabling of the Marriage Amendment which is intended to give voters at a plebiscite more detail about what they're voting on.
Long time marriage equality advocate Rodney Croome, said,
"I'm deeply concerned about the proposal to allow unspecified exemptions on the grounds of religion and to allow conscientious objection."
"I believe religious ministers should be free to marry who they want, but the government's proposal could mean civil celebrants, marriage registrars and wedding service providers like bakers and florists are all free to discriminate."
"How can the Parliament be expected to support a plebiscite given the matter voters will be asked to decide on is still so unclear and potentially radical?"
"The hidden danger in the Government's proposal is that it will split the 'yes' vote and sink marriage equality in the same way as the republic referendum."
"Some marriage equality supporters will balk at voting 'yes' to removing an old form of discrimination if the price is entrenching new forms."
Mr Croome went on to say the much-publicised case of Kentucky County clerk, Kim Davis, who refused to marry same-sex couples, may be behind the move to allow conscientious objections to same-sex marriages.
"The government's proposal potentially imports the US culture war over homosexuality into Australian legislation, something that most Australians do not want to see."
For more information about the Government's proposal click here.