By Emilie Ng
BEING called bigots hasn’t stopped three Brisbane women religious from campaigning against moves to legalise same-sex marriage.
Verbum Dei consecrated missionary sisters have written letters to all members of parliament in the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties, and independents, warning about the consequences of changing the Marriage Act.
Verbum Dei Sister Frances Drum, who is also a chaplain at the Queensland University of Technology, said pressure for politicians to vote for same-sex marriage in an upcoming cross-party bill was high and Catholics had a responsibility to voice their concerns.
“There’s an attitude that’s becoming more and more popular, to let people do what they want,” Sr Drum said.
“And not understanding that if we let people do what they want, that can lead to disastrous consequences, especially for the vulnerable members of society.”
The sisters said a number of politicians had seen the letters as encouraging and supportive.
“There’s the need for politicians to be supported, especially the ones standing for marriage, the traditional definition of marriage, but also the ones who are undefined, unsure, to be formed and encouraged to protect marriage,” Sr Drum said.
The sisters encouraged lay members of their community “to not be afraid” to share their support of traditional marriage to write to their local MPs outlining why a same-sex marriage law should not be passed.
A friend of the sisters, Catholic married woman Christine Thomas, faced her local member Ryan MP Teresa Gambaro, a same-sex marriage supporter, at a local shopping centre.
“I don’t think I changed her mind one bit, but I told her I was praying for her and that wisdom would prevail,” Mrs Thomas said.
Mrs Thomas, 64, said marriage supporters were not trying to manipulate politicians or “treat them like automatons”.
“We’re not aiming to stop people from having their relationships but to call it marriage is wrong,” she said.
Verbum Dei Sister Gabriela Aguilar said same-sex marriage supporters had already labelled the sisters “bigots, homophobic and discriminatory” for opposing the proposed bill.
“If I stand in a dialogue with people and tell them my understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman, I’m already at risk of being called a bigot, or homophobic, and attacked now, and it’s not discrimination because that is what the law of Australia holds now,” Sr Aguilar said.
The sisters and their supporters believe these attacks on their right to express their religious beliefs would increase if a same-sex marriage bill were passed.
“What I think a lot of people don’t realise is that Catholics will be labelled as discriminatory for giving God’s teachings on the homosexual act being wrong, rather than people understanding the whole picture of what the Catholic Church stands for on homosexuality,” Sr Aguilar said.
“We (Catholics) welcome very much people who are homosexual, and we love them very much but it’s the act that God doesn’t agree with, because it’s not a life-giving act.
“My concern is that we won’t even have the freedom to express that in the future.”
The sisters’ concern also extends to their “brothers and sisters with same-sex attraction”.
“If marriage is redefined, it is not going to encourage our brothers and sisters with same-sex attraction to be educated in chastity and to live a life that is with dignity,” Sr Drum said.