Ruth Limkin is a Brisbane pastor and freelance writer who had an opinion piece published in The Courier Mail today entitled "Same-sex debate one of division". It's in light of the vote in Queensland parliament this afternoon on the Civil Partnerships Bill 2011.
It's an interesting week in Queensland. Politicians are being asked to make a decision, but not the one we're being led to believe.
New research findings reveal the more significant question being put to them, and it's disquieting.
In September, The Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty commissioned the independent Sexton Marketing Group to research Australian attitudes to same-sex marriage.
They looked at attitudes towards redefining marriage, changing the Marriage Act, consequences of such changes and people's freedom to participate in the debate.
The report findings are illuminating. They both affirm, but then also deconstruct, the usual "first cut" responses from same-sex marriage surveys.
The report reads: "In some respects, the same-sex marriage debate is really a debate about the type of government that Australians want do they want a government that pushes ahead with social reforms where the public is divided and believes there may be risks of negative social consequences, or do they want a government that implements social change when there is a clear and emerging consensus that this is what the vast majority of Australians want?
"With only 35 per cent in favour of pushing ahead with change to the Marriage Act in a divided community, and only 14 per cent strongly advocating a change to the Marriage Act, this survey suggests that Australians prefer a consensus style of government, and deferring social reforms until there is a clear or emerging consensus of opinion."
It reveals Australians are highly uncomfortable with forcing legislative changes in the absence of public consensus. When the community is deeply divided, Australians want their elected representatives to respect social cohesion and work to build broader agreement first.
Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser, the author of the Civil Unions Bill, has not only failed to build social consensus, but has publicly intimidated those who disagree with his Bill.
He told ABC News that many of those who opposed his Bill did so for "dark-hearted reasons".
Such comments leave no room for the idea that men and women can care deeply for all people, while at the same time believing, as a matter of conscience, that marriage (and its civil union imitators) should be between one man and one woman.
This brings us back to the decision Queensland's politicians are being asked to make. Ostensibly, they are being asked to vote on the rushed Civil Unions Bill, which would mimic marriage for same-sex couples.
However, in the absence of considered and comprehensive public consultation; in the presence of abuse and aspersions being cast on those who do not support civil unions; in the low levels of support by Australians for changing the Marriage Act; that's not really what they are being asked to vote for.
Instead, they are being asked to cast a vote for community division, disregard for parliamentary process and intimidation of those who disagree.
That's not the Queensland anyone wants no matter who you love.