Same-sex marriage has created a migraine for courts in the UK and the US. In an article for Mercatornet, Campbell Markham presents several examples from the UK and US on how same-sex marriage is suppressing freedom of conscience. Markham’s goal, however, is not to restate recent history – but to issue a warning: Australia is next.
Many same-sex marriage advocates want to legally force all individuals to accept same-sex marriage, and punish any who resist. The consequences of such actions would drastically affect all Australians. Proponents of same-sex marriage try to keep the focus short-term – they insist that it is about “equality” and that legalising same-sex marriage would only impact same-sex couples. They couldn’t be more wrong, as Markham demonstrates:
In a recent press release Tasmanian LGBT advocate Rodney Croome said, concerning proposed marriage redefinition:
‘I’m deeply concerned about the proposal to allow unspecified exemptions on the grounds of religion and to allow conscientious objection. I believe religious ministers should be free to marry who they want, but the government's proposal could mean civil celebrants, marriage registrars and wedding service providers like bakers and florists are all free to discriminate.’
Bill Shorten affirmed this position before the election: “We don’t need to water down anti-discrimination law to keep some people [who oppose same-sex marriage] happy.”
And last month Attorney General George Brandis released an exposure draft for a marriage redefinition bill. The draft included protections against US-style prosecutions of religious and civil marriage celebrants, and “Religious organisations.” No protections however were listed for business owners.
It is possible therefore that any Australian small-business operators who believe that marriage redefinition is immoral and harmful, will be compelled to act against their conscience, under threat of prosecution, and to offer their property, goods, and services for the celebration of a [same-sex] wedding.
Same-sex marriage absolutely threatens freedom of conscience. Many Australians may not be aware of how drastically this would affect Australian society, and without exaggeration, all Australian citizens. As Markham reminds us, surrendering this right would surrender one of the founding principles of Western Society:
We are talking here about the destruction of a principle that is foundational to free Western society: the liberty of conscience; a principle bequeathed to us by our forebears at a spectacular expense of blood, sweat, thought, and tears.
No one should think that what has been recently proposed for Australian businesses will affect only a handful of fanatical florists. If you destroy the liberty of even one person’s conscience, you destroy it for all.
We cannot prize highly enough our magnificent heritage of freedom of conscience. Our forebears fought hard to win it, and now it is time to defend it.
Wherever it is legalised, same-sex marriage strangles freedom of conscience, and threatens all who dare to protest. Australia must understand: marriage is a building block of society, upon which foundational beliefs and rights reside. Don’t be fooled. It is not about equality, and it is not about marriage. It is about freedom.