For release: 30 April 2015

The Australian Christian Lobby today welcomed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's clarification of Labor's position on marriage after suggestions parliamentarians who voted to uphold its definition in law should be expelled.

Mr Shorten’s comments today keep faith with what he told the Christian constituency at ACL's national conference last October.

“Mr Shorten gave wise counsel for ALP delegates ahead of this years’ Labor National Conference. The way to win an argument is to persuade people, not resort to forcing them,” said ACL Managing Director, Lyle Shelton.

"There are many in the Australian community not convinced that redefining marriage is best for our society.

“Labor has a proud history of tolerance and this proposal to expel parliamentarians from the party who vote with their conscience in support of marriage would diminish that reputation.

"An important function of marriage is to provide children with every opportunity to be raised and loved by their parents, something intentionally denied by same sex marriage," Mr Shelton said.

"No parliamentarian should be forced to vote for a family structure which requires a child to miss out on their parent.

“Many Labor parliamentarians, including prominent frontbenchers voted to preserve marriage in 2012. Sending the message that they are not welcome in the party would be unthinkable to mainstream Australia.

"If a political party did this to its dissenters on marriage, what message would that send to Australians who will always believe marriage is between one man and one woman?"

While it was regrettable that Labor changed its policy in 2011, Mr Shelton urged the Liberal party to continue to vote as one on marriage.

"It is entirely appropriate for the Liberal party to hold a policy position which upholds the best interests of the child.

"Changing the definition of marriage is not inevitable and I look forward to the day when Labor changes its policy back the timeless and child-centred definition of marriage."