Gay marriage fight brewing in Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, Sep 2, 2011 September 7, 2011Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
Tags: Australian Christian Lobby, gay marriage
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
Australian Church leaders have urged MPs to put the needs of children first and reject proposals to amend the country’s Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriages.
Last week over 50 senior Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant church leaders gave their backing to Revising Marriage?, a paper prepared by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and distributed to all MPs that defended the traditional view of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“The traditional concept of marriage has a place in the law for the purpose of supporting the exclusivity and faithfulness of those biological relationships that result in children,” the paper argued. “Marriage in the law is for the sake of children and society,” the ACL paper stated and should not be changed to “primarily serve the interests of adults.”
Revising Marriage? comes amidst a flurry of political manoeuvring with the Greens and some Labor MPs pushing for a re-write of the country’s marriage laws. The Australian Labor Party’s national conference will take up the issue in November and supporters of same-sex marriage have released a survey that suggests 53 per cent of Australian Christians backed gay marriage.
However, political support for the move appears weak. Queensland Liberal-Nationals senator Ron Boswell handed the government a petition last week with more than 52,000 signatures supporting traditional marriage, and a parliamentary debate showed little desire for change.
In Parliament, 30 MPs spoke in response to Green MP Adam Bandt’s motion asking politicians to test voters’ views on gay marriage. Of those who spoke on 24 August, 18 reported their constituencies were against same-sex marriage, six were in favour and six offered no numbers. Opposition to gay marriage enjoyed cross-party support with a majority of Liberal and Labor constituencies opposing the move.
The 17-page Revising Marriage? reported offered theological, sociological, political and economic defences of traditional marriage. It started from the premise that all members of society should be treated fairly under the law, and noted that the legal protections of marriage were provided to same-sex couples under domestic partnership regulations.
However allowing same-sex marriage would fundamentally alter its meaning, they noted.
“Marriage has a place in the law because a relationship between a man and a woman is the kind of relationship that may produce children. Marriage is linked to children, for the sake of children, protecting their identity and their nurture by a mother and a father. The State would have no interest in the permanence and exclusivity of marriage if it were not the fact that marriage may produce children.”
Changing the nature of marriage to accommodate the ideological desires of adults was wrong, the paper argued. “In redefining marriage, the law would teach that marriage is fundamentally about adults’ emotional unions, not complementary bodily union or children, with which marital norms are tightly intertwined,” the paper said.
While supporters of same-sex marriage argue change the law would harm no one, the ACL paper argues that this “revisionist case reduces marriage to a matter of choice and love between adults” and would harm children and society.
“Marriage is a shared obligation for children,” the paper said. “That marriage has come under stress from a variety of causes over the past 50 years, no-fault divorce included, is no reason for radically altering its core nature, its aspirational value to society that it is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
Endorsing the document were the Anglican bishops of Sydney, Tasmania, Armidale and North West Australia. A spokesman for the Archbishop of Melbourne said Dr Phillip Freier was on leave, however it was her understanding that “he had sought advice from the Social Responsibilities Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, and was advised not to sign the ACL petition as worded.”