Same-sex marriage and religious freedom

The AMF Team commends to readers some good recent commentary on the issue of same-sex marriage and why it creates religious freedom issues, for churches in particular.

Paul Kelly from The Australian wrote that:

In political terms, legalisation of same-sex marriage brings state and church into direct conflict. To try to solve this problem, Labor activists specify that changes to the Marriage Act will not impose an obligation on a minister of religion to solemnise any marriage. This is the escape clause and it is pivotal. It is designed to permit religious freedom to continue to exist in Australia. Only a fool would accept this at face value.

The churches know this issue penetrates to the heart of religious freedom. Once the state changes the meaning of marriage, can you imagine the pressures all religions will face to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies against their will? The Christian churches, at some point, will become the focus of attack for denying gay marriage ceremonies in the name of religious faith.

While churches will enjoy an initial exemption from the state's law, that exemption over time will be attacked as an anomaly. No religion will accept at face value any guarantee from the Labor Party.

Meanwhile, commentator Andrew Bolt has written:

IT was meant to stop us worrying, but one bit of Labor's new policy for same-sex marriage is a warning.

I mean this: "These amendments should ensure that nothing in the Marriage Act imposes an obligation on a minister of religion to solemnise any marriage."

I'm sure most of the delegates at Labor's national conference on the weekend did mean it.

They just wanted the law changed so men could marry men, and women could marry women.

And they didn't want to use equal opportunity laws to then force churches to bless them.

But I wouldn't take this guarantee to the bank.

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26 Responses

  1. Douglas Ridley

    I fully agree with what both have written, as quoted above. (It is nice to find something I can agree with written by Andrew Bolt)

  2. William

    The Constitution makes orders to the effect that no religious point of view will be forced upon the public! However the courts today are ruled by “Secular Psychology” and if you have a have the opportunity to come up against this “belief system” you will be forced to accept the popular notion and the religious point of view of the Australian court system today! Which technically and fundamentally breaches their own standard order of the Constitution. Circular Psychology is a belief, which technically makes it a religious point of view, however that is regardless in the eyes of the court. So it all comes down to the point of view of the court regardless if it breaks its own laws.

    Regards ” 777 “

  3. Jonathan Dass

    I’m sorry but am I missing something here? The fight by minorities to have the church recognise and solemnise marriage between same sex couples has nothing to do with religious freedom. Christianity is a faith-based way of life and commitment to a set of moral values and behaviour. Pagan and other practices outside of God’s design and intent for marriage cannot be condoned by the church and people have no right to attack the church for standing their ground. If that is what same sex couples want then they can go and find someone a ‘civil celebrant’ to marry them and leave the church out of this. These groups generally do not want anything to do with the church or God and are now challenging the church and God to sanctify their union. Sorry, but it just does not work like that.

    • Rebecca

      The glbt community wants the law to recognise same sex marriage, not neccessarily the church. If the churches don’t want to perform the wedding fine, but the religious argument should hold no ground against the legal side of things. If Christian faith was in authority of our government other religions marriages would not be recognised, eg Jewish, Muslim. Nor would the non religious marriages of heteros. I’m so fed up with this nonsense I’m tearing up the certificate the minister gave me and my husband on our wedding day. It’s not worth the paper its printed on because I was an atheist when I got married. It can’t be used to proove change of name, as it isn’t a legal document. What matters is the legal document from births deaths marriages. Seeing as my man and I didn’t ask god into our marriage in my opinion that makes this a non religious union. So untill the defintion changes I’m not “married” I’m just “partnered”. I suppose that means my children are now “b-words”. That’s ok my folks weren’t married in a church so I’m one too.

  4. Fred

    It is kind of difficult to take all of this seriously. The christian religion is the base religion from which the Brittish empire and hence Australia as one of its colonies was formed. While various christian demonination may differ on certain technical interpretations of the text, the one that defines marriage in absolutely clear.

    My question for the government would be. If this is a secular government, then why does the tie (with the catholic church) that goes all the way back to inception important? If this was truly a secular government we need to redefine our consiousness too. Let us change the definition of right and wrong, goodwill and extend the social experiment into complete insanity.

    The simple fact is that christ does not approve marriage other than between one man and one woman. End of story. To think how arrogant we have become to even question it?

    • SUE


  5. Anne Stone

    It is a blessing to see my fellow Christian’s standing firm for the right to protect marriage between a man and a woman.
    God created us as male and female.
    I was saddened to hear that new early childhood teachers are being asked not to call there students “male or female” but to allow the children to “choose their gender” this is in the name of “inclusion”
    What is our world coming too! I am so blessed to to have a strong Christian faith in this day and age as I know I am protected .
    I know we all have different beliefs but I worry about the children of the future and the most treasured concept of a “family” What will this concept be in 10 years?
    I find it hard to understand why gay couples want to marry under church law. Isn’t SSM against Christs teachings?

  6. Mark Paul

    Thankyou to all above written…The growing consensus of homosexual acceptance within Christian church groups is a tragic desperation by a few to justify what the Bible from Genesis to Revelation clearly teaches as ‘abominable sin’…and its original terminology of …’Sodomy’…saw the the total decimation of the city Sodom by GOD in the Bible account for acceptance of such practice . The Torah (5 books of Moses) gives clear position of GOD’s determination of it as does the Apostle Paul (Rom.1) whose writings are the basis of all modern Christian church doctrine regardless of denomination. I have regularly said to others in Christian congregations who have been persuaded to accept the acceptance approach based on…”they were born that way”…and “GOD loves everyone”. The slippery slope becomes the excuse to justify…so then the ‘continual’ thief can also justly stand in a church congregation & say …”you also have to accept me because I was born that way” and so on for the continuing Liar, Adulterer, Coveter, even Murderer. Sin is by GOD’s definition…”the Transgression of the Law of GOD” (1John.3:4) & righteousness is the ‘Doing of GOD’s Law” (Deut.6:25). When we want to ‘twist’ GOD’s definition of His Law we have ‘left’ Him & are now worshipping ‘SELF’ and ‘OUR’ definition & have now made ‘OURSELVES JUDGE’ ….we are heading into a Doomed future.

  7. Sky

    I believe in almost everything that has been stated above. I don’t understand how you could be attracted to the same sex but then again in no way is it bringing me any harm. Who am I to come between the happiness and love of others. I have a friend that is gay and though I find him difficult to understand sometimes I would never wish harm on him or try to change him. What we do in life defines us and in the end we all want to find someone that loves and accepts us even with all our flaws. The one that will take both the good and bad and love us anyway. In the end does it really matter if that person happens to be of the same gender. It was god who said to always love and care for each other and especially forgive them for things they have no control over; and we cannot choose who we fall in love with. I am yet to find a reason not to allow them to be happy.

    • admin

      Thanks for you comment, Sky. Many people feel the way you do: ‘What’s the harm in allowing SSM?’ The question you really need to ask is: ‘Do you believe children should have the right, wherever possible, to both a mum and a dad?’ Yes, it’s not always possible, but it’s the best place to start. No one here is denying any SS attracted person the ‘right’ to celebrate their love. But we’re asking everyone to put the needs of children ahead of our own desires.

      • But every single child with 2 mums or maybe 2 dads will still have a mum or Dad because women can’t just make a baby of course they will need a donor! So I really don’t agree with what you are saying because you are clearly not thinking straight about this!

        • AJ

          Ah yes, but they will be removed from their mum or dad to live with a non-biological parent. That’s the issue we’re discussing.

  8. The writing is on the wall sadly. Just look at what is happening overseas where same sex marriage was brought in:

  9. I’m a girl trying to do a repot on same sex marriage this gave me no information I think it should be leagel but this did not help one tiny bit

  10. Pathetic article. First of all, HOMOSSEXUALS DON’T WANT TO MARRY IN CHURCHS. They want a legal system (JUSTICE) to protect and give them full rights. In the comments that is a woman called Sue who even ask why Men/Men Women/Women make sex with each other. BECAUSE THEY WANT you fool! Unbelievable the SSM is even an issue in Australia yet. Even New Zealand already approve it. It’s matter of time, you are delaying the unavoidable.

    • Paulo,
      You obviously haven’t read all the blogs from people identifying as “gay” and “lesbian” wanting to get married in a Church. Australians spent millions of dollars changing 85 laws in order that same-sex couples now have all the same legal rights as defacto couples whom have been given the same legal benefits as married couples. The Principal legal officer of the Family Law Branch confirmed that a sexual union (sexual intercourse) hasn’t been the basis of a civil marriage since the introduction of a no-fault divorce and this also made civil marriage no longer a life-long commitment. Therefore, civil marriage is only an exclusive legal union for a genuine man-woman living arrangement/ relationship which allows them a right to purchase a legal marriage certificate from the state for the status of marriage. Same-sex couples can’t claim any scientific evidence that they have the same genuine man-woman living arrangement/relationship because the majority of husbands work outside the home to provide for their family, whilst the majority of wives work part-time to nurture and raise children. However, the majority of same-sex couples work equally inside and outside the home and their relationship is 100% infertile (only 0.01% of children were in a same-sex household – ABS 2011). Therefore, a legal “same-sex marriage” means wives have to be legally treated the same as a same-sex married couple and become spouse B and they can’t use their gender as a reason to seek compensation in a divorce for nurturing and raising children. Also, children from biological parents have to be treated the same as children from same-sex married couples who have been legally separated from their biological parent/s. This means it becomes acceptable for the Family Court to only provide loving parent/s because kingship and biological parents become irrelevant in the decision. The Australian Immigration and Social Security rely on a genuine marriage because a legal state marriage certificate isn’t enough evidence to detect “sham marriages.” The meaning of a civil marriage is very different to a religious marriage which is a public commitment to a life-long, faithful sexual union (sexual intercourse) between one man and one woman which must be consummated to be recognised as a genuine Christian/religious marriage and can procreated new-life which the church is unable to annul. A Christian/ religious marriage doesn’t require a legal state marriage certificate as they can use other laws to protect their inheritance like a living Will.

      Same-sex couples don’t meet the basic criteria of a genuine civil marriage because they don’t have the same man-woman living arrangement/relationship and they don’t meet the criteria of a Christian/religious marriage because they can’t consummate their marriage as a genuine Christian/religious marriage. Also, adultery is grounds for divorce of a Christian/religious marriage, but this is irrelevant to a same-sex couple because this act can only happen between a man and woman. If the Australian government decide to recognise the living arrangement/relationships with same-sex friends, then it could easily recognise other government/non-government registration certificates/licences which owners purchase including cats and dogs, mobile phones, vehicles and guns etc. However, the genuine Christian churches have never been into the blessing the purchase of government and non-government registration certificates and they don’t have any sacred texts where God commands “man and man” and “woman and woman” to be united as “one flesh” in order to fill the earth with people as this is impossible, even to God who created all things. Christians can’t pretend sexual activities ( a sexual organ and a non-sexual organ – anal and oral sex, pretend sexual organs, robotic sex toys/dolls, masturbation, pornography and chemical (drug) sex) is the same as sexual intercourse (“one flesh”) which consummates a genuine Christian/religious marriage which can’t be annulled by a church.

      Do you believe it is only a matter of time before the government allows same-sex couples a right to purchase a legal marriage certificate from the state? The government will destroy the meaning of a genuine civil marriage as it will only mean a purchase of a government registration which is the equivalent to a cat and dog registration certificate which the council forces owners to purchase and owners can then celebrate this with a wedding ceremony. However, a legal “same-sex marriage” doesn’t have anything to do with a sexual relationship of same-sex couples which aren’t recognised in any civil or religious marriage laws anywhere in the world, but man-woman married couples sexual unions are defined in marriage laws around the world including Britain. You claim that man-man and woman-woman want to have sex, but the LGBTIAQ lobby-dictators have been informing society that same-sex couples don’t have a choice because they’re “born that way.” There is no scientific evidence for sexual orientation and gender identities are innate, biological and permanent characteristic unlike a race of people. New Zealand, America, Canada, Sweden and other western countries have supported a legal “same-sex marriage,” but all these countries have lost their freedom of religion which protects all other freedoms including freedom of speech. These western countries are now dealing with Brexit, Trump victories and loss of respect for law and order including terrorists, sexual assaults, domestic violence, loss of control of their borders etc. Other countries such as China have accepted the practice of communism, forced abortion and the death penalty, but this hasn’t meant that Australia has been forced to accept these practices, despite China is Australia’s biggest trading partner.

  11. Messrs Bolt and Kelly’s concerns are well-founded. When/if the Marriage Act is amended and a range of partner combinations (think LGBTI+) are legal, clergy put themselves in the firing line by choosing to marry only men to women.

    The first churches to do so will quickly find themselves challenged in the courts on discrimination grounds, by well-funded activist groups.

    When/if the Act is amended churches need to urgently consider pulling themselves out of participating in it as administrators of a Commonwealth law, to become instead private practitioners of their beliefs and thereby protected from discrimination charges by the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, as amended.

    Religiously-minded couples, legally married by the Commonwealth, would be free to seek an additional church wedding, under church rules.

    Alternatively Parliament could secularize the Marriage Act but there are no votes in it, so churches will need to look after themselves.

    Paul Nolan/Brisbane

  12. How is gay marriage taking away religious freedom? Gays are not telling those holier than you they cannot marry in church, so how can these religious people tell gays you cannot marry outside church. Are we still reliving the Holy Inquisition when you either believe or get tortured and murdered in the name of God which I may point out that it is against one of their ten commandments. The church should be more concerned with the priests corrupting children then who is getting married to whom.

    • It will take away religious freedom because it has here in Britain. Let people marry where they want, but also allow people of all religions to refuse to participate if they wish. You should also get your facts straight. The Church has and is taking action were abuse is proven. There are far less abusers in the clergy than in teaching, social work, coaching, many other professionals. This is not just about the Church it is across many faiths. Some of your own ministers and gay academics have shown the same concern over this vote. At least you are getting a vote, not having a minority issue decided in Parliament for the rest of us.

  13. You are all messed up. Everyone deserves equality and if you let your religious beliefs blind you, you’re no better than Hitler.

    • You are the sick one. How dare you compare people who have done nothing wrong and have broken no laws but probably have more track record of love than you with a man who murdered over 11 million people!!!! This has nothing to do with equality. Let people marry in a civil partnership, that is legal or hand clasping, or whatever, but they cannot be married in a religious ceremony, which is contrary to laws and traditional belief laid down over many thousands of years. Marriage is between a man and a woman, a civil partnership is a same sex marriage. There are also gay clergy who will marry them. Attacking people whose views you disagree with by saying they are like Hitler puts you in a bad light, not them.

  14. Be warned, you will be forced to allow it. Ever since it was legalised in Britain, schools have been closed for not promoting gay marriage, even Jewish and Catholic schools given high ratings a few years ago have been failed in this area and face closure. I don’t see any Muslim schools being closed for the same thing and even people at the BBC have been sacked for wanting a more open debate. A baker in Ireland refused to put a political symbol on a cake to promote gay marriage and has been bankrupted. You cannot adopt a child in Britain if you are a Christian, Jew, Muslim or other religious person who wants to remain true to your faith and this is a faith issue and matter of natural law, even if you are passed to give a loving home. Our minister is saying churches should be forced to marry same sex couples, despite all the promises of protection for religious freedom and conscience.

  15. I don’t get what the fuss is about. I’m not gay or religious, but hasn’t marriage just been a civic ceremony with ramifications on our legal system for a long time now? You can also (if that is your wont) get it done in a church, but that’s hardly necessary.

    So who cares about amendments to an archaic civic ceremony? I think the problem is the rabid extremists of BOTH sides of the argument, who seem to think that an opposing opinion affects them.

    I think a Facebook meme I saw recently summed it up nicely for both sides – ” don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry a gay “

  16. Australia has significant cultural and social issues; the support for “SSM” against all scientific, sociocultural and spiritual evidence is only a symptom, not the cause. Australians are too involved in regard to their collective guilt (racism, treatment of aboriginals) and being mainstream & politically correct, at nearly all costs, is the nation’s obsession. “SSM” will be enacted soon and – as a result – civil and religious freedom will be gradually – but eventually severely – curtailed, parental rights will be distorted and children’s well-being will be seriously affected negatively. The newer generations will have to face enormous psycho-social issues and the resulting society will continue its downhill. There is no easy way out. Even if the “No” vote wins, it will only delay the inevitable. The Australian society has issues that cannot be resolved without an enormous and continuous effort, sound education (not training), and cultural role-modeling that is gravely missing within. Sorry, there is no happy ending here.

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