Currently, the Marriage Act recognises ministers of religion from large established religions but requires ministers of religion from small independent and emerging churches to register in a very similar way to civil celebrants.
To distinguish from civil celebrants, the Bill creates a new category of ‘religious marriage celebrants’for ministers of religion from small and emerging religions that are not recognised under the Marriage Act.
Marriage celebrants who are already registered whose religious beliefs would not allow them to solemnise a same-sex marriage have 90 days to apply to be registered as a religious marriage celebrant. Civil celebrant associations estimate that approximately as few as 3% of all current marriage celebrants would prefer to be registered as a religious marriage celebrant.
The new category will only be available to existing civil celebrants.