By Emilie Ng
CHRISTIANS supporting natural marriage have called Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten’s statements supporting same-sex marriage at a recent Christian conference as a “weak” media stunt.
Mr Shorten, (pictured) a Catholic who attended a Jesuit school in Melbourne, told attendees at the Australian Christian Lobby national conference in Canberra on October 25 that he was a Christian and “a supporter of marriage equality under the law”.
But Australian Christian family and marriage advocates say the opposition leader’s statements were unreasonable and made no attempts to address the consequences of same-sex marriage.
Australian Family Association’s Brisbane spokesman Luke McCormack said the opposition leader’s understanding of the purpose of marriage was “a common mistake”.
“Marriage is not a right or a claim for adults; rather it is a mutual obligation that secures for any children their biological mum and dad,” Mr McCormack said.
Mr McCormack said politicians repeatedly neglected the needs of children when bidding for same-sex marriage rights.
“The opposition leader wants to change the meaning of marriage to make it all about adults but politicians have no right to do this,” he said.
“The essential elements of marriage are pre-political and only the people in a referendum should be allowed to change its meaning.”
Brisbane’s John Paul II Centre for Family and Life director Dr Ray Campbell said Mr Shorten failed to make a reasonable case on redefining marriage.
“Mr Shorten asserted his position but offered no argument as to why his position was more reasonable than the alternative view,” Dr Campbell said.
“I dare say a lot of people will be disappointed not with Mr Shorten’s own understanding of marriage, but with his lack of understanding of the alternative view.”
National association of Catholic families Sydney co-ordinator Mary Clare Meney said Mr Shorten’s comments ignored the natural law of procreation.
“The union between a man and a woman is the only fruitful one and it can never be any different,” Mrs Meney said.
Mrs Meney said even if civil unions or same-sex marriages became legal, caring pastorally for homosexual persons would be difficult.
“The Church can do a lot more to reach out to gay people,” Mrs Meney said.
Adelaide barrister and adjunct professor of law at Notre Dame University, Sydney and the University of Adelaide law school Neville Rochow said jurisdictions tempted by the idea of “marriage equality” have caused serious oppression of religious freedom and “the right to speak from our conscience”.
“Freedom of conscience and freedom to express conscience manifess itself in freedom of religious and is part of a properly effective society,” Mr Rochow said.
Mr Rochow said anti-discrimination laws in favour of same-sex couples targeted “ordinary people in ordinary commerce” who “have no ecclesiastical protection”.
Mr Rochow said cases worldwide showed a “diminution of services because people of faith can’t act in their conscience”.