What next for same-sex marriage

Supportera at a same-sex marriage rally in Melbourne earlier this year

Almost eight in 10 Australians who received the Australian Bureau of Statistics same-sex marriage survey form have already had their say.

Any changes the lower house makes to the bill would need the approval of the Senate.

In a statement, Abbott said "the parliament should respect the result" but he pointedly noted that both the prime minister and the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, had "pledged their support for freedom of religion".

The bill also enshrines protections for people who hold views that marriage is only between a man and a woman, that sex should only be between married men and women, and that gender is only binary.

"So I foreshadow that in the committee stage of the debate, I will move an amendment to extend the right of conscientious objection to performing a ceremony of marriage from ministers of religious to include civil marriage celebrants as well".

"It's already against the law", Senator Brandis said.

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Standing alongside Turnbull at the press conference after the survey announcement, Cormann said he agreed the Smith bill was "a good starting point" but warned that it needed "additional religious protections".

If the vote is "no", the motion will be dismissed and Smith will table his bill.

Some 22 bills seeking same-sex marriage have been introduced into the federal parliament since 2004.

Well, the Senate could begin debating it as early as tomorrow.

In a further rebuke, he said while parliamentarians would be entitled to put forward and debate amendments, he believed ideas such as Senator Paterson's "would have virtually no prospect of getting through the Parliament".

While Smith bill allows churches to refuse to Wednesday same-sex couples, the Paterson bill would have allowed anyone with a religious or moral objection to refuse to participate in the process - including florists, bakers and musicians.

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'While the Law Council does not endorse every detail of the Smith Bill it represents a better balance from a human rights perspective and represents greater fairness, including those affected by winding back anti-discrimination laws, ' Ms McLeod said.

A handful of ministers backed the sentiments expressed in Senator Paterson's rival bill, including Resources Minister Matthew Canavan and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, who have supported the "no" side.

The Liberal National MP George Christensen said he would vote for a bill with protections inserted but would otherwise abstain, saying it "keeps faith with my commitment".

Various opinion polls point to a majority "yes" vote, possibly as high as 60 per cent.

In a historic moment for the Australian Parliament, Liberal senator Dean Smith has introduced the bill expected to legalise same-sex marriage.

One Nation, which controls three votes in the Senate, has reserved its position.

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