The book “Campaigns, Causes and Commitments”, records 140 years of engagement with social issues of the time. It is a fine record that demonstrates how a local church can engage with issues of compassion and justice. Sadly, these issues are always with us and in their own way demand that people do not remain silent.
Last Thursday the St Kilda Church Council discussed the issue of Marriage Equality and agreed unanimously to actively support the campaign to vote ‘Yes’ in the Postal Survey in the interests of equality and justice. As a council, we are conscious that there is a diversity of opinion in our church community on the issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and same-gender marriage and we believe that each member of the Uniting Church must vote according to their conscience. We also recognise that the vote ‘No’ campaign is engaging in distortion and exaggeration of the issue, and causing much hurt especially among young females and males in the LGBTIQ community.
The primary concern for us as a church community is that we believe all Australians should have the same opportunity for love, commitment and happiness with a partner of their choice and to have their families protected by law. Many of us have friends and family in the LBGTIQ community, and along with them have been waiting for marriage equality for a long time. We welcome the draft of the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 as a path through which marriage equality could become law. It gives hope to the many LGBTIQ Australians and their families who want to be treated equally. This is a sound bill, drafted after extensive consultation by a Senate Committee earlier this year. We are heartened that such legislation has the overwhelming support of the Australian community, including Australian Christians, evidenced by the many scientifically rigorous surveys that have been conducted in recent years.
The draft bill upholds religious freedoms. it is about civil marriage.
In conclusion, we believe that marriage inequality diminishes everyone. It means we live in a society where the majority of people are free to celebrate their commitment to another person in marriage while a minority cannot. A society where a majority can enjoy the emotional and economic security of a legally binding marriage, while a minority cannot. As a Christian community committed to advancing progressive views about theology and biblical understanding, we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the LGBTIQ community who deserve justice through having the right to marry one another. Many in the community cannot see what all the fuss is about. Some in the community can’t see why it is getting the attention that it is – a side-issue they say. However, for members of the LGBTIQ community, their families and friends, this barrier to marriage is also a symbolic statement about exclusion; they are not able to access fully the rights of citizenship.