A majority of Australian Christians support marriage equality and strongly suggest parliamentarians should vote on the issue sooner rather than later.
A Galaxy Research poll of 1000 Australian Christians, commissioned by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), showed 54% support for same-sex couples being allowed to marry while 77% believe all federal parliamentarians should be free to vote on same-sex marriage as soon as possible.
It found support for a free vote is strong across all Christian age groups, but strongest among millennials (aged 18-34) at 86%.
The survey also found 61% are unhappy with conservative religious groups representing the views of all Christians, including 55% of regular church-goers.
The poll was taken nearly two weeks after Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne was caught on tape bragging at a Liberal Party function that marriage equality would soon be coming to Australia.
It has since been revealed that Liberal senator Dean Smith and Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman have actually been working on a private members’ bill to legalise same-sex marriage through a conscience vote by MPs, rather than a non-binding plebiscite.
However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull remains adamant that legislation on same-sex marriage will not be brought to parliament “until there has been a vote of the Australian people”.
The poll also revealed that 49% of Australian Christians oppose a law change that would allow civil celebrants to refuse their services to same-sex couples on the ground of conscientious objection.
Only 31% supported a law change to allow refusal of civil celebrant services to same-sex couples, while 21% are undecided.
PFLAG national spokesperson Shelley Argent (pictured) said with Australian Christians so conclusively behind marriage equality, it’s time for politicians “to have a free vote and get this done”.
“Changes to the Marriage Act have always been made through the parliamentary process and should remain so,” she said.
“Politicians should stop paying so much attention to conservative Christian advocacy organisations which a majority of Christians feel don’t represent them.
“As a mother, I want my gay son to have the same rights and responsibilities as his brother. One of the rights being the right to legally marry his partner and have it recognised in his home country.”
The Very Reverend Peter Catt, the Dean of St John’s Cathedral and spokesperson for Progressive Christian Voice, said the poll proved that Australian Christians believe everyone should be treated equally and fairly without discrimination.
“I’m pleased to see Australian Christians holding firm to Christ’s injunction to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves,” he said.
“I’m particularly pleased that most Christians feel their views on marriage equality are not represented by conservative religious groups. This means it’s time our leaders listened to a greater diversity of Christian voices.”
Long-time marriage equality advocate and spokesperson for just.equal, Rodney Croome, said not only do Christians support marriage equality, they want it resolved in parliament asap and they don’t want any further legal discrimination once same-sex couples are able to walk down the aisle.
“It’s important that politicians understand that Australians don’t believe equality comes in half measures and don’t want new forms of discrimination to replace an old one,” he said..”
Senator Smith is expected to introduce marriage equality legislation sometime after Parliament resumes early next month.