This’s morning’s smh reports that a group of 7 Anglican bishops, led by the bishop of Wangaratta, have written to all MPs in the House of Representative (lower house of the Australian parliament) to urge them to pass Senator Smith’s bill unamended, particular with respect to religious freedoms:
A group of Anglican bishops has split with some of the church’s top leaders to declare support for the current version of the same-sex marriage bill before Parliament, publicly calling on lower house MPs to resist the conservative push to insert stronger religious protections.
davidould.net has received a copy of the letter:
Some readers may take issue with the claims surrounding the Senate’s previous examination of the issues around freedom of religion and expression. As Assoc. Prof Neil Foster notes at Law and Religion in Australia:
It is worth stressing (since there seems to be some confusion on the matter, even among members of the Government) that this Committee was examining the Brandis Bill, not the Smith Bill. The Smith Bill has not been through any Parliamentary committee process that I am aware of.
Simply put, the letter’s claim that the bill responds directly to that previous Senate committee appears to be incorrect. I’ll refer readers to Foster’s excellent work in this area:
- Protecting religious freedom after “Yes”
- Religious Freedom protections in new same sex marriage proposals: too few, too narrow
The signatories of the letter are:
- John Parkes (Wangaratta)
- Garry Weatherill (Ballarat)
- Andrew Curnow (Bendigo)
- Kay Goldsworthy (Gippsland)
- Sarah MacNeil (Grafton)
- William (Bill) Ray (North Queensland)
- John Stead (Willochra)
Not many surprises there.