sydneyanglicans.net have a great summary article on the Australian Senate Inquiry into Same-Sex Marriage Legislation (not to be confused with a previous inquiry in 2015).

The Diocese of Sydney has told a Senate Inquiry the proposed bill on same-sex marriage does not sufficiently protect freedom of religion.

The Senate inquiry into the exposure draft of the legislation allowing same-sex marriage has been holding public hearings in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra this week. The government has vowed the issue must be put to a plebiscite first, although a bill to enable a public vote was defeated the first time it was introduced into the Senate.

However, the committee is still examining enabling legislation which would be introduced, if a plebiscite were to result in a vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

The Diocese of Sydney made a submission to the public inquiry, and the Chair of the Religious Freedom Reference Group, the Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead, appeared at the inquiry. Bishop Stead was called alongside the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

The piece goes on to note other submissions. I think those of most interest to readers of davidould.net will be those of the Diocese of Sydney (link to submission pdf), Freedom for Faith (link to submission pdf) and Professor Neil Foster (author of Law and Religion Australia) (link to submission pdf).

Interestingly there is no other submission by an Anglican Diocese nor by the national Anglican Church of Australia although there are notable submissions by St James’ Sydney (arguing for a clear division between “civil” and “religious” marriage that would necessarily remove the role of ministers as official celebrants and provide some element of freedom to more liberal churches like St James to provide services of blessing) and by Muriel Porter (who argues for a reduction in the exemptions for ministers of religion on the basis that existing rights already allow them to demur and provide sufficient protection).

I thought it might be helpful to embed the submissions of Sydney, Freedom for Faith and Foster

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One thought occurs to me. I’m really grateful for all this work (and that of others) but I wonder if we might have said a little more about freedom of conscience and expression for non-religious objectors to the redefinition of marriage. It’s possible to read these submissions and come to some sense that the only people opposing redefinition are religious types but the reality is that there is a groundswell of opposition that encompasses a much wider group of people. Surely we should be clearly advocating for their rights too?

Comments

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2 comments on “Christian Submissions to the Senate Same-Sex Marriage Inquiry

  1. Yes we should be advocating for a wider group of people. However, one wonders why this group haven’t stood up for themselves as well?

    • I think one point why this “wider group of people”, who represent a “groundswell of opposition” and who may not be motivated particularly by religion, have not made submissions is that they do not belong to or represent any particular organised group. The submissions mentioned above are all by large organisations (e.g. the Anglican Diocese of Sydney; Freedom for Faith; St James’ Church King Street, which is a central-city church with a large congregation, many of who are erudite and used to presenting complex arguments in writing) or writers or experts in one way or another (e.g. Neil Foster, Muriel Porter).

      The “groundswell” people referred to above though are more likely to be “Mr and Mrs Average”, just individual people, many of whom no doubt think that they don’t have the time or the expertise to make these sorts of submissions and who may, moreover, feel (possibly subconsciously) that it really wouldn’t matter what they wrote anyway because their opinions wouldn’t count for much.

      So I think it’s not hard to understand why this wider group of people haven’t stood up for themselves.

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