Clergy and equality advocates find common ground on gay marriage
Australian Marriage Equality has welcomed a letter sent by a group of multi-faith clergy to all 150 members of the House of Representatives in support of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage while permitting religious freedom.
The bill, introduced by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, is set to be debated in the coming weeks and reads as follows:
“That this House agrees that should the Marriage Act 1961 be amended to allow for the marriage of same-sex couples, any such amendment should ensure that the Act imposes no obligation on any church or religious minister to perform such a marriage.”
The letter in support of the motion is from Baptist, Uniting, Anglican, Jewish, and Metropolitan Community Church clergy.
“While the issue of same-sex marriage is supported by some churches and opposed by others, one area that all churches would agree on is that religious ministers should be under no obligation to perform same-sex marriages if it does not accord with the doctrines of their faith.”
Australian Marriage Equality National Convener, Alex Greenwich, has welcomed the letter as much-needed sign of maturity in an often heated debated:
“Rather than engaging in alarmist scaremongering, this group of 15 respected clergy have taken steps to help us reassure faith groups that no church will be under any obligation to marry same-sex couples.
“We hope this motion will send a clear message that the proposed amendments to the marriage act are about civil marriage and will not affect the way any church chooses to practise or define marriage.”
Mr Greenwich said he hoped all members of parliament would join his organisation and the 15 clergy in supporting the motion and providing people of faith with this reassurance.
“We hope support for this motion sends a clear message to Bob Katter, the Australian Christian lobby and other concerned groups that we come in peace,” he said.
One of the clergy who signed the letter, the Rev. Roger Munson of the Uniting Church in Canberra, pointed out the support for marriage equality among clergy:
“Some clergy support same-sex marriage, some don’t. The law should give churches permission to celebrate marriage according to their particular faith. Mr Wilkie’s motion underlines this principle and should satisfy both sides of the issue.”
Mr Greenwich said his organisation regularly met with religious leaders and said support for marriage equality among people of faith was growing:
“Polling late last year showed 53% of Christians support marriage equality, Galaxy’s most recent poll showed 62% of Australians support marriage equality and, when given assurances about religious protections, support is further strengthened.”
Information on polling can be found here.