How Dean Smith voted compared to someone who believes that the Federal Government should amend the Marriage Act 1961 so that same-sex couples can marry under Australian law

Division Dean Smith Supporters vote Division outcome

29th Nov 2017, 1:30 PM – Senate Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority voted to pass the bill in the Senate. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a third time.

The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.

What does this bill do?

This bill will allow same-sex couples to marry under Australian law. However, it will also:

enable ministers of religion, religious marriage celebrants, chaplains and bodies established for religious purposes to refuse to solemnise or provide facilities, goods and services for marriages on religious grounds; and make amendments ... to provide that a refusal by a minister of religion, religious marriage celebrant or chaplain to solemnise marriage in prescribed circumstances does not constitute unlawful discrimination.

Read more in the bills digest.

Yes Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

20th Jun 2013, 11:28 AM – Senate Marriage Act Amendment (Recognition of Foreign Marriages for Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2013 - Second Reading - Agree with bill's main idea

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The majority rejected the bill’s main idea (in parliamentary jargon, they voted against giving the bill a second reading). This means the bill failed and won’t be debated anymore.

The bill’s main idea was that Australian law should recognise all marriages that are legal overseas, including same-sex marriages.

Rebellion and a free vote

Liberal Senator Sue Boyce was a rebel and agreed with the bill’s main idea while the rest of the Liberal Party disagreed with it.

The Labor Party treated this division as a free vote so Labor senators could vote for or against it.

Background to the bill

Same-sex marriage is not legal or recognised in Australia so homosexual couples who marry overseas are not considered married here.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced this bill two months after New Zealand became the latest country to allow same-sex marriage (more information on Wikipedia).

ABC News reported the result of this division.

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

7th Feb 2013, 12:22 PM – Senate Motions - UK Marriage Equality Legislation - Congratulate UK PM

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The majority voted against a motion to congratulate the UK Prime Minister David Cameron "for his leadership in passing historic marriage equality legislation through the House of Commons".

Despite the motion's wording, the UK same-sex marriage legislation is actually still being considered by the House of Commons. But a large majority did recently vote in favour of the main idea of the bill (that is, they voted to read it for a second time).

Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced the motion.

Background to the motion

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2013 (UK) was introduced into the House of Commons by the UK Government on 24 January 2013. Its purpose is to legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

Although same-sex couples in the United Kingdom can already have their relationships recognised as a civil partnership, they cannot legally marry.

In Australia, same-sex marriage is illegal but there have been several recent attempts to pass legislation to legalise it.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

11th Oct 2012, 12:11 PM – Senate Motions – State-based Marriage Equality Legislation – No Commonwealth challenge

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The majority voted against a motion to ask the Gillard Government to “rule out a Commonwealth challenge of any state-based marriage equality legislation”. This means that the majority believe that the Government should be able to challenge state same-sex marriage laws in the High Court.

Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced the motion.

Background to the motion

Two weeks ago, the Tasmanian Legislative Council voted against a bill that would have made Tasmania the first state to recognise same-sex marriage in Australia. Members who opposed the bill were concerned that it may not be constitutionally valid because it was inconsistent with Commonwealth marriage law. And their main concern was the potential cost of a Commonwealth challenge against the bill (see ABC News).

Professor Anne Twomey gives a good discussion of the bill's constitutional issues.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

20th Sep 2012, 4:15 PM – Senate Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012 - Second Reading - Read a second time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012 for a second time. This means that the majority of senators reject the main idea of the bill, which was to recognise same-sex marriages.

This means that the bill will not be considered any further.

Debate in Parliament

This bill was introduced as a private senator’s bill by Labor Party Senator Patricia Crossin. It had the support of the Greens Party. The Labor Party was given a conscience vote on it, resulting in Labor senators voting both for and against. The Liberal Party uniformly opposed it.

A key feature of the debate was disagreement as to whether the current marriage law was discriminatory. Supporters of the bill such as Senator Crossin argued that the current law “discriminates against same-sex couples by prohibiting them access to marriage”.(Read Senator Crossin's contribution here. ) Opponents of the bill such as Senator George Brandis disagreed, saying that any discrimination against same-sex couples was removed with bi-partisan support by the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Bill 2008 and the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws - Superannuation) Bill 2008.(Read Senator Brandis' contribution here. )

Background to the Bill

Senator Crossin, who introduced the bill in the name of herself and three other Labor colleagues, highlighted the unusual nature of this bill. That is, although it is not a government piece of legislation, it is “a piece of legislation that has been moved by four members of a government”.(Read Senator Crossin's contribution here. )

The bill aims to enable same-sex couples to marry under Australian law.(More information about this bill can be found here.) However, a minister of religion would not have been obliged to solemnise a same-sex marriage.

References

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

How "voted moderately against" is worked out

The MP's votes count towards a weighted average where the most important votes get 50 points, less important votes get 10 points, and less important votes for which the MP was absent get 2 points. In important votes the MP gets awarded the full 50 points for voting the same as the policy, 0 points for voting against the policy, and 25 points for not voting. In less important votes, the MP gets 10 points for voting with the policy, 0 points for voting against, and 1 (out of 2) if absent.

Then, the number gets converted to a simple english language phrase based on the range of values it's within.

No of votes Points Out of
Most important votes (50 points)      
MP voted with policy 1 50 50
MP voted against policy 2 0 100
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 2 0 20
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 50 170

*Pressure of other work means MPs or Senators are not always available to vote – it does not always indicate they have abstained. Therefore, being absent on a less important vote makes a disproportionatly small difference.

Agreement score = MP's points / total points = 50 / 170 = 29%.

And then