PM & Abbott 2nd leaders debateBy Lyle Shelton, ACL Managing Director

It may be that the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is concerned his new-found position on marriage is hurting his standing with Christians.

At last night’s “peoples’ forum” debate with Tony Abbott in Brisbane, the two leaders were again asked for their positions on same-sex marriage.

It was interesting that Mr Rudd went straight to concerns about religious freedom in his answer saying the church should never have to conduct same-sex weddings.

The church was not even mentioned in the question.

After years of defending man-woman marriage, Mr Rudd reiterated his new view that there could be two systems of marriage: civil same-sex marriage and church-based marriage that excluded homosexuals.

But what then does the “marriage equality” campaign mean if churches do not have to provide “marriage equality”?

It is clear from overseas examples that advocates for changing the definition of marriage will not stop until they achieve what they see as full equality.

Already a wealthy, high profile homosexual couple in the UK is planning to sue the church because they are being denied a church wedding. The ink is not even dry on the UK Parliament’s same-sex marriage bill, which was recently passed but not yet in force.

But the pressure on the church from the homosexual political agenda is not just oversees. A local leader in the marriage equality movement, Ivette Madrid of Equal Love Canberra, told ABC radio last month she could not agree to churches being exempt from performing same-sex weddings.

“The churches will be discriminating on the basis of gender and so I don’t think that should be allowed at all,” she said.

In the last Parliamentary sitting week, a law was rushed through Parliament stripping Christian aged care homes of their religious freedom to protect their ethos. The former head of Australian Marriage Equality, Alex Greenwich, wants Christian schools to be next.

It is naïve to think the church, Christian schools and charities will be allowed to happily co-exist teaching their vision of marriage and family when the state has by law changed the definition of marriage to something diametrically opposed.

The State will be obliged to ensure its definition is enforced, otherwise the law change “marriage equality” advocates seek is meaningless.

It is disappointing that Mr Rudd’s new view which he announced last May (but last night said was a position he “took some time ago”) did not include a discussion on the ethics of children missing out on the love and nurture of their natural parents, a further necessary consequence of same-sex marriage.

In Mr Rudd’s rush to legislate within 100 days if he is re-elected, the rights of the child are not even being considered nor are the implications for religious freedom and freedom of speech.

For his part, Mr Abbott continues to hold the line, although he can’t guarantee that his party room will not water down Coalition policy on marriage by demanding a conscience vote after the election.

“All I can do is candidly and honestly tell people what my view is. I support the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman,” Mr Abbott said.

A political leader’s view has a powerful influence over his or her party. The best chance of retaining marriage at this election lies with the Coalition.