Christians Push For 2nd Class ‘Gay Marriage’

pic by Steve Bott

As Abbott founders, religious extremists launch a last ditch strategy to ‘save marriage’ from the gays.


The Australian Christian Lobby and other religious campaigners – hereafter referred to as “The Christaliban” – have realised that this will almost certainly be a one term government. They have also realised, following Shorten’s speech to the ACL, that an incoming Labor government will not pander to their prejudices as Rudd and Gillard did, and will be far less sympathetic to their pleas.

In other words, they know their cause is pretty well lost, and are desperate to try to salvage something from the coming disaster.

They are particularly keen to block any chance of equal marriage for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and intersex people, and they think they’ve found a way to do it. Some of them (excluding the ACL, who have been told to butt out) are lobbying the coalition to introduce a same-sex marriage bill.

That might sound like a massive concession on their part, until you look at the detail. Their alleged demands include so many restrictions on same-sex marriage that it can’t be called marriage at all.

Sources confirm that discussions are taking place, but decline to be more specific, presumably because negotiations are ongoing and nothing is yet settled. Those same sources either do not know, or decline to say, exactly which Christians are involved in this effort. However, the stirrer has learned the following rather disturbing details of the Christaliban bid.

The suggestion is that Marriage Act would be left unchanged. Instead a new and wholly separate same-sex marriage bill would be introduced. The suggested draft contains ‘religious exemptions’ which would legally entrench discrimination against same sex couples. The Same Sex Marriage Bill

  • Would apply to same-sex couples only, not trans* or intersex
  • No adoption rights – although that’s a state issue
  • Religious celebrants and places of worship banned from carrying out same-sex weddings
  • Civil celebrants given exemption to refuse to conduct same sex marriages on conscience grounds
  • Caterers, hotels, reception centres, dressmakers, florists, venues, cake stores – any business to be given the right to refuse any services to a same sex wedding on conscience grounds

The Coalition would give MPs a conscience vote, and it would be brought in during the term of the current government. The Christaliban reason that if such a bill were to become law, it would choke off demands for full marriage equality, and erect a roadblock that would stand for a generation.

The government, meanwhile, hopes to split support for the gay community. They will sell this as a reasonable compromise, and try to paint those holding out for full equality as extremists.

However, rather like pregnancy, there is no room for compromises. Either you are pregnant, or you’re not. Either you are married, or not. Either we are equal, and able to marry on exactly the same terms as anyone else, or we are not. This abomination would leave us as second class citizens with second class rights.

Whatever others may call it, this ill-formed object is not marriage. It is our old rejected suitor, a civil union, wrapped as a marriage. Slapping on a misleading label does not change the contents of the package. This is not equality. This will extend and enshrine our inequality in legislation. This will not remove discrimination, but write it into law. A pernicious proposal indeed.

Hopefully Australian Marriage Equality are not tempted by this sugar-coated poison pill. What they have said publicly in the past about giving civil celebrants exemptions gives us some hope they will stand firm.

 Marriage equality advocates plan to oppose a proposal by Senator David Leyonhjelm to allow civil celebrants to be exempt from performing same-sex marriages should they choose to do so. The exemption is an amendment to Leyonhjelm’s planned same-sex marriage bill.

Equal Love campaigners suggest there is already an exemption for religious celebrants and that an exemption for civil celebrants is unnecessary.

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said civil celebrants are registered by the government to carry out a government service, and like all public officials they should not be allowed to discriminate.

We must not allow ourselves to be divided. We must reject any cosy suggestion that this is progress, or half-a-loaf, or better than nothing, or whatever other cliche is dredged up. This is not progress. It is regress.

The only acceptable outcome is the amendment of the Marriage Act to give full and true marriage equality and adoption rights to every member of the GLBTI community. Anything less would toss aside all the hard work and sacrifice by so many and set it at nought.

This shall not pass.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)