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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions in Australia

Part 3:
2011-AUG to 2012-JUN. Public supports SSM.
Labor party supports SSM. Legislative
committee makes no recommendation on SSM.
Salvation Army official calls for genocide.

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This is a continuation of a previous essay.

map of Australia2011-AUG-16: Poll finds most Christians in Australia support same-sex marriage (Cont'd):

Unitarians, The Society of Friends (Quakers), the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia have gone on record as supporting SSM.

The poll results were released just before a rally against same-sex marriage was held. It was organized by the Australian Christian Lobby and other conservative Christian groups.

Malcolm McPherson, a Christian, and spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality said:

"Christian groups that oppose marriage equality like the Australian Christian Lobby are entitled to their view, but they do not represent the majority of Australian Christians. Clearly, most Australian Christians believe same-sex marriage is consistent with Christian values like justice, love, compassion and fidelity, [and is] not opposed to these values."

Rev. Bill Crews, a Uniting Church minister and the host of a Sydney radio program, said:

"Today in Australia we all live in a secular and non discriminatory society. Churches and other spiritual institutions exist within this society. It seems to me that in a secular and non discriminatory society gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple. If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimizes all marriages." 1,2

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’." 3,4

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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 [current] 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 is believed to have held 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." 5,6

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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 Members of Parliament (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." 7

However, Abbott is a Roman Catholic and may be influenced by his Church's fierce opposition to marriage equality.

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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. Their response also did not match 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. 8

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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 practicing 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 apologizes 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." 9

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This topic continues on the next essay

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Quotations used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Poll finds a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage," Australian Marriage Equality, 2011-AUG-16, at:
  2. "Same-sex marriage and religion," Galaxy Research, 2011-AUG, at:  This is a PDF file.
  3. "Poll finds a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage," Australian Marriage Equality, 2011-AUG-16, at:
  4. "Same-sex marriage and religion," Galaxy Research, 2011-AUG, at:  This is a PDF file.
  5. "Australia's governing Labor party backs gay marriage," BBC News (Asia), 2011-DEC-02, at:
  6. "Australia's Labor party votes to endorse gay marriage, but no law change,"  Associated Press, 2011-DEC-03, at:
  7. Matt Aklersten, "Hey Tony, your MPs and voters want their say," Same Same, 2012-MAY-20, at:
  8. Edmund Broch, "Australia: Equal marriage headed for a defeat in the Parliament,"  Pink News, 2012-JUN-18, at:
  9. James Park, "Australian Salvation Army apologises for spokesman arguing gays should be executed," Pink News, 2012-JUN-24, at:

Copyright © 2006 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-JUN-14
Latest update: 2014-NOV094
Partly written by: B.A. Robinson

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