A Brisbane priest who supports marriage equality has backed Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage legislation and warned a “shameful” new rival bill would “legalise homophobia”.
Reverent Dr Peter Catt (pictured) is Dean of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane and a member of lobby group Christians for Marriage Equality.
“Since the beginning of this survey, we have had a clear and simple message: all people are equally loved by God and deserve to be treated equally under the law,” he said.
“Suggestions that churches or individual people of faith need additional exemptions from the rules governing everyone else are groundless, and contradict the teachings of our faith.
“Jesus taught us to treat others how we want to be treated ourselves. The Dean Smith bill does that.
He blasted the proposed same-sex marriage bill from Liberal Senator James Paterson, unveiled on Monday, as “a shameful attempt to unwind anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTI people.”
“It would legalise homophobia. This kind of treatment would not be acceptable for any other group of people in our country,” he said.
“We call on parliament to reject this bill and support the considered and balanced bill from Senator Smith.”
The Paterson bill would override state and territory anti-discrimination laws to allow the refusal of same-sex weddings by those holding a genuine religious or “conscientious belief” against same-sex marriage, allowing discrimination by private service providers.
Paterson said he backs same-sex marriage, but not “at the expense of the freedoms of other Australians.”
The group’s chair, Rev. Dr Margaret Mayman, said a “yes” verdict in the postal survey was widely expected, and said suggestions about adding new rights to discriminate were dangerous.
“Let us be clear: there is no basis in either democratic principles or the practice of Christian faith for undermining marriage equality with new forms of discrimination against LGBTI people,” she said.
Pastor Brad Chilcott of Adelaide’s Activate Church said Smith’s bill adequately protects religious freedom.
“For some religious celebrants that will mean not officiating at the marriages of LGBTI couples, in the same way that some do not marry divorced persons or couples of different faiths,” he said.
“Other faith communities will delight in being able to offer marriage to LGBTI people.
“People who have always opposed marriage equality need to accept that the majority of Australians have seen through the fear campaign and have instead embraced equality for their LGBTI family members, friends and co-workers.
“It is time for the parliament to do its job, and pass the bill proposed by Dean Smith before Christmas.”