Wannon MP Dan Tehan and Mallee MP Andrew Broad vote for same-sex marriage amid battle over religious freedom

Wannon MP Dan Tehan and Mallee MP Andrew Broad have lived up to their promises and voted in favour of same-sex marriage.

Following a lengthy debate, both MPs sat with the vast majority on one side of the House of Representatives on Tuesday evening to pass the historic legislation.

Mr Broad had pledged to vote in parliament in line with Mallee’s result in the same-sex marriage postal survey and Mr Tehan had pledged to vote in line with the national result.

Both results returned a majority of ‘yes’ responses.

Mr Tehan previously told parliament that he would honour his past commitments to vote in line with the postal survey but urged MPs to vote for amendments to protect religious freedom.

“Individuals hold a wide range of views for various reasons,” Mr Tehan said. 

“As parliamentarians, it is now our responsibility to enact legislation that legalises marriage for same-sex couples but also acknowledges the concerns of the nearly five million people who voted no.”

Mr Tehan invoked his grandfather’s hero, Thomas More, to explain the importance he placed in religious freedom.

Mr More was the speaker of the English House of Commons who opposed King Henry VIII’s split from the Catholic Church to allow his marriage to be annulled.

Mr More was executed for treason in the year 1535 and was beatified as a martyr and a Catholic saint 400 years later.

“In reflecting on More’s faith and his example in public service, we must recognise the need for a robust legal framework that allows people of faith with conscientious objections to same-sex marriage the freedom to thoughtfully and peacefully honour their own faith,” Mr Tehan said. 

“Indeed, it is appropriate to reflect on the words of St Thomas Moore who said: No man shall be blamed in the maintenance of his own religion.” 

Mr Tehan also thanked constituents who contributed to a “respectful and courteous” survey campaign.

Prior to the bill being passed, Mr Broad was part of an 11th hour bid to make amendments in favour of protecting religious freedom and freedom of speech.

“Don't take away churches' freedom to decide what happens to their assets,” Mr Broad said. 

“You wouldn't give that freedom in your own home; don't take it away from the churches and religious organisations of Australia.”

Mr Broad used his own daughter’s guitar playing and singing as an example of why personal and private freedoms needed more protection.

“I have an eight-year-old daughter. She is learning to play the electric guitar. She is not very good at playing the electric guitar,” Mr Broad said.

“But I'm happy to send her to your House to set up in your lounge room so she can play her electric guitar really, really loud.

“And bless her, she wants to go on The Voice; she thinks she can sing. I love her but she can't sing.”

Mr Broad went on to state his example had a point to the issue of religious freedom.

“It is her right to play that guitar anywhere she wants, in your house as loud as she wants,” he said. 

“You say, 'Hold on a minute here, no, it's my house. My house. I might tell her to turn it down. I might tell her after 10 minutes of playing that she needs to be quiet.'

“Why? Because it's your house. You have the right.”

Mr Broad said the High Court should not have the right to deny people or churches “the freedom to express yourself in what you want to spend your money on and what you want to build your assets on”.

Social media users described Mr Broad’s speech as “bonkers” and his example as a “totally weird comparison”.

Many questioned the wisdom of leaving a permanent public record of undermining a child’s musical ability.

A social media manager for advertising firm Oglivy Australia offered to donate guitar lessons for Mr Broad’s daughter. 

Mr Broad was also criticised for saying, while arguing for the merits of faith-based organisations and the activism of religious people, that gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender people were less active in social advocacy.

“I haven't seen too many people from the LGBTI community—and this is a challenge for the LGBTI community—become great social advocates like I have seen religious organisations and religious people be,” Mr Broad said.

Earlier in the debate, Mr Broad quoted the classic 1997 Australian Film ‘The Castle’ and one scene in particular that has been referenced repeatedly in jokes about the parliament citizenship crisis

“What they do in their own facilities is their own business, and their beliefs should not be interpreted by a judge but should be consistent with the values they hold dear,” Mr Broad said.

“I suppose you could put that in The Castle language as 'the vibe'. It's the vibe.”

Mr Tehan, as Defence Personnel Minister, spoke in favour of amendments that he said were “necessary to protect the conscientious rights of all Australian Defence Force officers”.

The final vote took pace just before 6pm on Thursday and due to only four MPs voting against the legislation, no formal division was recorded.

It has been estimated that 14 MPs abstained from voting, including Tony Abbott.

During his time as prime minister, Mr Abbott led a joint Liberal and National party room debate on same-sex marriage in August 2015 that produced the policy of holding a national vote via plebiscite.