Religious exemptions relating to marriage equality could be dealt with after Christmas, according to reports in News Corp ($) and Fairfax papers today.

Losing ground, conservatives in the Coalition have been discussing which provisions from Senator James Paterson's now abandoned alternative bill they will try to have inserted into Senator Dean Smith's bill. But with senior figures like Peter Dutton now calling for the issue of religious exemptions to be held over to the new year, it's possible a lightly amended Smith bill could find passage before Christmas.