Coalition MPs opposed to same-sex marriage are building their case against change, warning that it could leave churches, schools, charities and individuals that defend traditional marriage exposed to legal challenges, The Australian reports.
The battlelines for the No campaign were staked out this week by Tony Abbott, who framed his opposition in terms of a defence of free speech, religious freedom and a check on political correctness.
West Australian Liberal MP Andrew Hastie yesterday developed this theme, saying religious protections in the private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage championed by WA Liberal senator Dean Smith were insufficient. “What protections will be given both to individuals and institutions?” he said.
“The Smith bill only offered protections to individuals involved in the conduct of weddings. It failed to grasp the far-reaching significance of redefining marriage.”
Mr Hastie suggested discrimination laws across the country were skewed against those who continued to defend traditional marriage – individuals could be left legally exposed for simply speaking their minds while non-government schools could be forced to change their teachings if same-sex marriage was passed.
“What about Australians who hold to the view of marriage as a union between a man and a woman based on empirical evidence, biology and historical precedence? This is how I’ve made the case as a parliamentarian – without reference to sexuality or religion … will that view be acceptable if we change the definition?
“Will people, churches, schools, charitable organisations and businesses be protected if they hold to the common view of marriage?”
His comments were backed by Victorian Liberal MP Kevin Andrews and the Moderator General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, John P. Wilson, who said the lack of religious protections in the Smith bill posed a threat to Presbyterian schools.
Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson, a supporter of same-sex marriage, said he was concerned about “the impact it will have on religious liberty and freedom of conscience”.
“Where we draw the line to balance those competing rights is a very difficult question,” he said.
Legal threat on same-sex marriage push (The Australian)
UK barrister urges churches not to keel over in gay marriage stoush (Catholic Weekly)
Arrogant gay marriage advocates risk losing support (The Australian)