For release: Tuesday 17th September 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby is urging the ACT Government to delay its same-sex marriage bill until consultation with churches occurs.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said church leaders he had spoken to had not been consulted by the Government.

“Redefining marriage and enforcing this new definition of marriage by law has significant consequences for freedom of speech and freedom of belief,” Mr Shelton said.

“Many people, not just Christians, watched with great concern Kevin Rudd’s treatment of Brisbane pastor Matt Prater on ABC1’s Q&A.

“There will always be people in our society who for reasons of conscience will always believe that the truth about marriage is that it is between a man and a woman.

“They will want to be free to speak about this and teach it to their children,” Mr Shelton said.

“This bill needs to be delayed until there can be a proper discussion about how this change to the definition of marriage will affect the civil liberties of those who cannot agree with the redefinition of marriage.”

Mr Shelton noted that local same-sex marriage advocates did not agree with churches being exempt from performing same-sex weddings.

Ivette Madrid of Equal Love Canberra told ABC radio on July 29 that her organisation disagreed with protections for religious freedom.

“The churches will be discriminating on the basis of gender and so I don’t think that should be allowed at all. We have human rights legislation and so they are willing to bypass that,” she said.

In the UK, a wealthy same-sex couple is planning to sue the Church of England for not providing them a church wedding. This was despite UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s guarantee of protection for churches.

“It is naïve to think that any exemption the ACT Government might provide churches will not be challenged in the future,” Mr Shelton said.

“No government should create a vulnerability to religious freedom, one of the most basic human rights.

“A redefinition of marriage in the ACT is likely to end up in the High Court. It would be disappointing if Australia went down the American path of having judges determining important social policy.”