Same-sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions
In Australia 2011-AUG to now
This is a continuation from a previous essay.
2011-AUG-16: Poll finds most Christians in Australia support same-sex marriage (Cont'd):
Matt Glover, a Baptist pastor from Melbourne, said:
"When a couple want to be part of the institution of marriage, when they fully accept the same rights and responsibilities of marriage and treat marriage with the respect it deserves, why should they NOT get married? As a Christian minister, I believe that marriage is under threat from many angles, but also believe that recognizing same-sex unions will help return marriage to its rightful place in society. ... We want politicians to understand that marriage equality is not about ‘God v the gays’, but about principles like justice and inclusion that have support across many faith communities. ... We urge all Christians who support marriage equality to email their local MP."
Father Dave Smith, an Anglican parish priest in Sydney, said:
"From a Christian point of view, marriage is an institution designed to serve two social needs:
1. contribute broadly to social stability, and
2. provide a stable environment for the nurturing of children.
If this is the case then the only questions Christians need to concern themselves with when it comes to the issue of gay marriage are these two:
1. Would gay marriage lead to greater social stability?
2. Would a married gay partnership be likely to provide a more secure environment for the nurturing of the children of a gay couple than an unmarried one?
I think the answer to both these questions has to be ‘yes’." 1,2
2011-DEC-03: Australia's governing Labor party backs same-sex marriage:
By a voice vote at the Labor Party's national conference in Sydney, the party decided to endorse same-sex marriage in their formal political platform. The conference also endorsed a call by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to allow a free vote on any bill that would legalize SSM. She made this decision even though she personally opposes marriage equality. The opposition Liberal party opposes SSM, and so a bill would probably not succeed unless Liberal MSs were also given a free vote.
Finance Minister Penny Wong, who is in a same-sex relationship, said:
"Never doubt how persistent the campaign for equality is."
Labor senator John Faulkner said:
"Human rights can never be at the mercy of individual opinions or individual prejudices. They are not privileges to be extended to one person and denied to another according to the whims of popular opinion or the whims of the government of the day. They are inherent in each and every one of us simply because we are human."
Joe de Bruyn, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association -- one of Australia's largest unions -- opposes same-sex marriage. He said:
"This issue is one we should decide with our heads, not on the basis of emotion. The definition of marriage as set out in the legislation is that it is the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life. It has always been that way since the dawn of humanity."
He is apparently unfamiliar with the many cultures -- including those in the Old Testament -- that legalized polygamy. Solomon holds the record at 700 wives!
Alex Greenwich, national convener for Australian Marriage Equality said:
"The momentum toward achieving marriage equality is unstoppable. A major obstacle to reform has been removed and we are prepared to face the new challenge we have been given of achieving reform with a Labor conscience vote." 3,4
2012-MAY-22: Galaxy poll show majority of the Liberal voters support free vote on SSM:
A Galaxy poll showed that 77% of Liberal Party voters want the party to allow a free vote among Liberal MPs so that they could vote according to their conscience on a marriage equality bill. Opposition leader Tony Abbott opposes a free vote and is expected to attempt to force all Labor MPs to vote against the bill. This is the first time in the history of the Liberal party where their MPs have not been granted a free vote on a substantive policy issue when Labor MPs were granted one.
Alex Greenwich, National Convener of Australian Marriage Equality said:
"By allowing a conscience vote, Tony Abbott will represent the wishes of Coalition voters, prevent disunity in Coalition ranks, and be seen as upholding Coalition values of individual freedom. ... The Liberal Party prides itself on allowing more freedom to their MPs than the Labor Party does, but on this issue Tony Abbott is turning his back on party tradition and liberal values. ... Mr Abbott may have opposed marriage equality during the election campaign, but he did not rule out a conscience vote." 5
However, Abbott is a Roman Catholic and may be influenced by his Church's fierce opposition to marriage equality.
2012-JUN-18: House of Representatives committee makes no recommendations on SSM:
The House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs concluded a lengthy public consultation on same-sex marriage. They received a record number of responses: 276,437 in total. Sixty-four percent favored marriage equality.
However, the Committee's response did not match the public's response in the consultation, or the polling results which repeatedly show majority response for SSM. They voted 4 to 2 against marriage equality. They passed the bill to the House with no recommendation.
Graham Perrett, the chairperson of the committee, favors marriage equality. He speculates that the bill is headed for defeat in Parliament. He voted in favor of the bill along with another Labor MP, Laura Smith.
Current predictions are that at least 36 out of 70 Labor members of Parliament (MPs) will vote in favor of the bill to create same-sex marriage. Ten to 15 are currently undecided; the rest are opposed. Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard is personally opposed to marriage equality, but will allow members to vote freely according to their conscience. Tony Abbott, a Roman Catholic, is head of the opposition Liberal Party. In spite of its name, it is politically conservative. He will attempt to force Liberal MPs to vote against the bill. Most commentators expect the bill to be defeated. 6
2012-JUN-23: Salvation Army official calls for execution of all sexually active gays and lesbians:
Major Andrew Craibe was interviewed on an Australian LGBT radio station. He was asked if the Salvation Army believed that LGBT people should die. He replied:
"You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief."
He was asked again whether LGBTs should die. He replied:
"Well, I qualify by way of, that’s where my belief system is structured, you know? It’s what it comes to, that salvation story, and that we can be redeemed from that. That’s my belief."
The next day, Bruce Harmer, the Salvation Army’s Communications and Public Relations Secretary for the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. He issued a FAQ on the Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, saying:
"Salvation Army members do not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment. The Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine does not state that practising homosexuals should be put to death and, in fact, urges all Salvationists to act with acceptance, love and respect to all people."
"The Salvation Army teaches that every person is of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved. ..."
"The Salvation Army sincerely apologises to all members of the GLBT community and to all our clients, employees, volunteers and those who are part of our faith communities for the offence caused by this miscommunication." 10
2012-JUN-25: Senate committee backs marriage equality:
The Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee received 46,000 submissions from the public in support of marriage equality; that was almost 60% of all submissions. In their report, they stated that it is:
"overwhelmingly apparent ... [from submissions that same-sex couples] feel that the current definition of marriage in the Marriage Act discriminates against them because they are denied the fundamental social, cultural, psychological, administrative and legal benefits that marriage can provide. ... As a result, and on balance, the committee strongly supports legislation to provide for marriage equality in Australia, on the basis that it will remove discrimination in this important area for same-sex couples."
"In saying this, the committee acknowledges the significance of the institution of marriage and the place that it holds in Australian society. The committee considers that allowing all couples access to marriage – regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity – will only strengthen the institution of marriage, and increase its value and importance."
By a 4 to 2 vote, the committee recommended that Bill 2010, the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill be passed with a clause that protects the right of those clergy who wish to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them.
Alex Greenwich, National Convener for Australian Marriage Equality said:
"This is a watershed moment in the marriage equality debate because Coalition, Labor and Greens members of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee have joined forces to help progress a reform a majority of Australians want. ... This report has given voice to the very powerful conservative case for same-sex marriage, and has also called on Mr Abbott to allow members of the Coalition the opportunity to vote for reform and express their support for marriage equality as conservatives." 7
2012-SEP-20: Same-sex marriage bill killed:
The House of Representatives rejected the Labour Party's SSM bill on SEP-19 by a vote of 98 to 42.
The Senate also rejected the bill on SEP-20 by a vote of 41 to 26.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott said:
"I think we should let the dust settle before we come back to it. ... But I think that really does settle the matter of gay marriage certainly at least for the life of this parliament and I suspect for longer."
Penny Wong of the Labor party said:
"Sadly, the Opposition was not allowed a conscience vote on this very important issue and I believe that, had Mr Abbott shown some leadership and allowed a free vote, the result may have been much different."
Rodney Croome, spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality noted that one encouraging factor with the vote is that the number of Senators who voted in favor of SSM increased by a factor of four since a similar vote in 2009.
Liberal MP Warren Entsch has written a civil partnership bill for submission to the House and Senate. He said that it is for two:
"... two persons who are in a relationship as a couple, regardless of their sex, and who meet the eligibility criteria." 8.9
More conflict is inevitable
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Poll finds a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage," Australian Marriage Equality, 2011-AUG-16, at: http://www.australianmarriageequality.com/
- "Same-sex marriage and religion," Galaxy Research, 2011-AUG, at: http://www.australianmarriageequality.com This is a PDF file.
- "Australia's governing Labor party backs gay marriage," BBC News (Asia), 2011-DEC-02, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
- "Australia's Labor party votes to endorse gay marriage, but no law change," Associated Press, 2011-DEC-03, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
- Matt Aklersten, "Hey Tony, your MPs and voters want their say," Same Same, 2012-MAY-20, at: http://www.samesame.com.au/
- Edmund Broch, "Australia: Equal marriage headed for a defeat in the Parliament," Pink News, 2012-JUN-18, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
- Stephen Gray, "Australia: Senate committee backs marriage equality in ‘watershed’ report," Pink News, 2012-JUN-25, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
- "Australian Senate kills gay marriage bill," NineMSN, 2012-SEP-20, at: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/
- Vittorio Hernandez, "2nd rejection for sam-sex marriage bill in Senate," International Business Times, 2012-SEP-21, at: http://au.ibtimes.com/
- James Park, "Australian Salvation Army apologises for spokesman arguing gays should be executed," Pink News, 2012-JUN-24, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
Copyright © 2006 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2006-JUN-14
Latest update: 2012-SEP-27
Partly written by: B.A. Robinson