A group of Anglican bishops has split with the church’s hierarchy and urged members of the Lower House to support Senator Dean Smith’s marriage equality bill.
The group, headed by the Bishop of Wangaratta, John Parkes (pictured), say Senator Smith’s bill should be approved as it stands.
“It preserves the fabric of our anti-discrimination laws, which have been developed over half a century,” they say in a letter to all Lower House MPs, in which they say not all religious leaders believe amendments are necessary.
“These give expression to democratic values of equality and fairness. It also accords fulsome recognition of the religious rights and freedoms that underpin a democratic, plural and multicultural society.”
During the postal survey process, Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies was a strong backer of the “No” campaign, describing Senator Smith’s bill as “wholly inadequate”.
And the head of the church in Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, was public about voting “No” in the survey.
Coalition conservatives are set on amending the bill, which passed the Senate 43 votes to 12 last week, without change.
If they manage to get enough support for their changes around freedom of religion and conscience the bill will have to return to the Senate.
But it is believed those who want Senator Smith’s bill passed without change will have the numbers in the Lower House.
Labor’s Tony Burke said he would prefer the Lower House to pass the bill in its current form as the amendments had already been dealt with in the Senate.
“We could very easily get to a situation where the Senate has approved marriage equality in one form, the House of Representatives has approved marriage equality in a different form, and we get to the end of the year and we still don’t have the change,” Mr Burke told reporters at Parliament House this morning.