Fourteen church leaders in the country have drafted an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten calling attention to the lack of religious freedoms in the same-sex marriage bill.
Six key concerns are addressed in the letter, including the right of parents to educate their children in accordance with their beliefs, the right of religious institutions to choose who can use their facilities, and that religious organisations will not lose their charitable status for holding to a traditional view of marriage. The letter states:
We welcomed your respective independent undertakings, given during the postal survey, that such freedoms would be protected in the event of a yes vote. Much turns, however, on what is enfolded within the content of those freedoms.
The leaders also call for protection to be given to celebrants who adhere to traditional marriage beliefs; under the law as it stands, provisions are only made for the transition period:
The Bill before the house only provides transitional rights for existing celebrants, who are not ministers of religion, to act in accordance with their genuinely held religious or conscientious convictions. We believe new celebrants should also be able to apply to be a traditional marriage celebrant into the future.
The leaders also voiced their support for the amendments to the legislation proposed by Senators James Paterson and David Fawcett. The amendments, which would have afforded protections to faith-based charities and individuals who support traditional marriage, as well as upholding parental rights, failed in the senate last week.
Signers of the document include: