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Marriage debate appropriate at university

Traditional marriage supporters

Happy to debate: Celia O’Kane and Dr Ryan Anderson. Photo: Rod Jolly Media.

CATHOLIC university students are commending a Melbourne institution’s public support for a talk on traditional marriage and are asking for more in the debate.

Australian Catholic University provided a venue for a public talk on the future of marriage organised by the Australian Christian Lobby last month.

Renowned public speaker Ryan T. Anderson, known for adding a “refreshing” voice to debates on marriage, gave the public talk entitled “The Cost of Equality”.

ACU business and law student Celia O’Kane said the talk was “helpful for a young Catholic” who had been “shut down on the basis of my religion”.

“It was fantastic,” Miss O’Kane said.

“Ryan T. Anderson gave us a perspective on how to discern and discuss an educated opinion about marriage.”

Dr Anderson argued kids were “getting ripped off” in a world where three people parent one child, Miss O’Kane said.

“These are real people’s lives, with jobs, careers, businesses and families,” she said.

Miss O’Kane shared a photo of her with Dr Anderson on one of ACU’s social media pages and said she was a “proud ACU student”.

But Miss O’Kane’s praise was amongst a wave of backlash from some ACU students who publicly shamed the university for supporting the talk.

ACU student senator Dylan Ettridge sent emails to the student body asking for support of a “Free to Be You” campaign.

Mr Ettridge’s email also said the talk “caused distress” to members of the university’s National Student Association and encouraged the student body to send emails to university management.

Miss O’Kane said a Catholic institution was “within their rights” to promote a talk with a traditional view of marriage.

She said she heard about the talk through public advertising at the university’s Melbourne campus.

Holding “traditional perspectives” especially in the marriage debate has cost Miss O’Kane many friends.

“They can’t tolerate the fact that I’m against (same-sex marriage),” she said.

An ACU spokesperson said the university was “open to people of all beliefs”.

“ACU, like all Australian universities, encourages people to explore and debate important questions,” the spokesperson said.

“It is in this spirit of open discussion of broad community ideas that the university allows a range of groups to use the facilities to explore and discuss important community issues. All views expressed are those of the presenters and the community groups.

“In keeping with this principle, the university made a venue available to the Australian Christian Lobby to hear from Dr Ryan Anderson on the topic of marriage.”

Mr Ettridge did not respond to a request for comment at the time of going to print.

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