Changing the definition of marriage has consequences for all Australians, whether or not they are people of faith.
John Wilson, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, notes this. As he explains, changing this indispensable definition will affect our entire society – but not for the better. Wilson emphasises that the definition of marriage is signficant not just for personal relationships, but to schools, businesses, freedoms, and so much more:
The proposed changes to the Marriage Act are far-reaching and must not be taken lightly. Those proposing a private member’s bill in favour of same-sex marriage say clergy will be afforded legal protections for counselling, officiating and speaking with respect to weddings. However, would this prevent ministers and evangelists such as Campbell Markham and David Gee from being hauled before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner when one referred to same-sex marriage in a blog and the other in a street meeting in Hobart?
If same-sex marriage becomes law this will have a significant and disturbing impact on our schools. There is no doubt that teachers will be required to teach pupils about the validity of same-sex marriage. What protections will there be if they conscientiously object? In Victoria, state policy is that “schools must support and respect sexual diversity, including same-sex attraction”. Further, “learning within other domains such as English, the humanities and civics and citizenship provides many opportunities to include sexually diverse content … and … texts that incorporate the theme of same-sex relationships”.
This policy seems to penetrate most areas of the curriculum and no doubt will trouble many teachers for emotional, moral, philosophical as well as religious reasons. They are right to be troubled. In Canada, which went down this path in 2005, there are no exemptions for teachers in state or faith-based schools. They must support this material despite misgivings.
Proponents for changing the definition of marriage are woefully wrong: same-sex marriage does have consequences for “straight,” LGBTQ, and all others in between.
I urge all Australians to recognise marriage as the fundamental institution of society, which is not ours to change on a whim. Even if all Australians cannot do so for explicitly religious reasons, at least let us recognise that this is a divisive issue for non-churchgoers as well, many of whom do not want to be silenced on such a socially significant matter.
Changing the definition of marriage will affect everyone. Religious and non-religious alike have much at stake in this fight, and both have something to lose if same-sex marriage is legalised – their freedom.