HOW FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION WILL CHANGE SHOULD MARRIAGE BE REDEFINED
It simply will not be possible to publicly hold a dissenting view without facing demonisation at best and legal action at worst. The viscous intimidation of staff at the Sydney Airport Mercure Hotel brought to light one of the long-standing and key tactics of same-sex marriage advocates for shutting down debate. The Mercure Hotel said that their staff were “rattled” by the phone calls and abuse they copped when activists started targeting them for hosting a pro-marriage event. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the advocacy group Marriage Alliance and the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) had booked a meeting room to hold a campaign briefing for more than 100 coalition partner groups.
The meeting was subsequently rescheduled and went ahead at a different location. Sadly, the meeting had to be held in secret. This is not the sort of Australia most people want created by the push to redefine marriage in law. Australians feel uncomfortable with the situation where fellow Australians, who hold to the Millennia-old idea that marriage is between a man and a woman and that children, wherever possible, deserve their mum and dad, are having to meet in secret because of safety concerns. ACL has, of course, faced this may times before but we have never lost a venue. Until now. The threats of violence have escalated and we were forced to leave the Mercure out of concern for the safety of staff and guests.
They are the innocent bystanders in this debate – simply doing their job in helping a client hold a meeting. Australia is now no longer safe, even for non-combatants. What the Mercure staff faced last week is what ACL’s staff face on a regular basis. Our receptionist regularly fields threatening calls and has even had death threats and threats of physical violence. We report these to the police. We also reported to the police instances of our female staff being emailed homosexual pornography. Last week a same-sex marriage activist, entered our Canberra office and bizarrely made a mess in the women’s toilet. The activist was peering through our downstairs windows. With the memory of Senator Cory Bernardi’s Adelaide Office trashing fresh in our memories, our team was unnerved.
When leaders of the same-sex marriage movement were asked by the media to condemn the activists who targeted the Mercure, they declined to do so. In fact, they implied that groups like ACL had it coming to them. When leaders fail to condemn this sort of activity, it only further emboldens the extremists in their movement. This has made me very worried for the safety of ACL office staff who bear the brunt of vitriol on a regular basis. If people from our side were ringing the offices of Australian Marriage Equality or trying to shut down their events with threats of violence, I would be the first to condemn this. Yet politicians like Labor’s Stephen Jones smear us by saying both sides are guilty of bad behaviour.
But he and others who lump us all in together provide no evidence. ACL is used to the double standards. The rest of the nation is now beginning to wake up to this. We will continue to speak about the consequences of taking gender out of marriage which lead to “Safe Schools”, where our children are taught their gender is fluid. We will continue to speak about the rights of children, wherever possible, to be loved and nurtured by their own mother and father – something same-sex marriage makes impossible. We will continue to speak about the loss of freedom that same-sex marriage law creates. The same-sex marriage debate is a proxy for a radical re-ordering of our society’s understanding of gender and freedom of speech.
I mentioned legal action earlier. Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous recently spent six months tied up in legal action before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal simply for distributing Christian teaching on marriage. This is serious folks. It is naive to think it will get better once the law is changed and State-based Anti-Discrimination Law stands ready to condemn as hateful bigots any of us who publicly seek to teach our view of marriage. We must not let intimidatory tactics stop us from participating in the debate. Our planned meeting went ahead inspite of the threats, but I look forward to the day when we don’t have to meet in secret.
To achieve this, we must persuade our fellow Australians to preserve marriage at the plebiscite or face continued persecution. It is as simple as that. As someone said to me this week, if we are not allowed to have the debate we should not be making the change.
Source: Opinion piece by Lyle Shelton Managing Director of ACL
A people’s vote on redefining marriage has been promised. Many of us have same-sex attracted friends and family. Is it possible to love them whilst saying no to same-sex marriage? Not everyone thinks so – or would like you to think so. The media in particular fan the flames of ‘unlove’ by regularly labelling those opposed to same-sex marriage as ‘anti-gay’. This is incredibly unhelpful. A prominent gay leader has described the upcoming plebiscite as, “a national vote on whether their country accepts same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people”. This rhetoric, I believe, is very dangerous. It only casts ‘no’ in a negative light. It does nothing to encourage the “high-quality debate” he says he desires and, in fact, reinforces any rejection LGBTI youth may already be feeling.
I believe saying ‘no’ to same-sex marriage is a way of showing love, not rejection. Here’s why:
1. It is not unloving to tell the truth about marriage. Marriage is clearly different to a same-sex relationship – for reasons of biology, sociology and anthropology. To call them the same thing is to deny the truth. As Aristotle said, “The worst form of inequality is to try and make unequal things equal.”
2. It is not unloving to put the rights of children first. As a society we see it as a tragedy when, due to events like desertion or death, a child misses out on the love and care of both their mum and dad. For a government to make a law that mandates this loss is not putting the rights of the child first. It is loving to ensure, where possible, every child is raised by their mother and father.
3. It is not unloving to fully consider the consequences of an action before taking it. Atheist columnist Brendan O’Neill warns, “everywhere gay marriage has been introduced it has battered freedom, not boosted it.” Whether it is freedom of conscience, speech or freedom for parents to remove their children from ‘sexual diversity-celebrating’ sex education classes, all have been further restricted to some degree in countries that have redefined marriage.
Here are a few other important considerations:
a. True tolerance: To reject someone else’s view is not to reject them. It is possible to strongly disagree with someone and still be friends. A healthy and mature society can have these conversations without personal vitriol and name-calling.
b. Marriage is precious. For thousands of years across all cultures, religions and countries, marriage has been solely a male/female thing. In the last 15 or so years 23 of some 200 countries have changed the legal definition of marriage. Redefining the age-old institution of marriage is no small thing. Many are legitimately concerned about the consequences. Its impact will likely take generations to fully assess.
c. Don’t believe everything you hear. In general the Australian media are very supportive of redefining marriage. The prominence and focus of the issue is therefore often overrated. Get-Up!, the so called progressive lobby group, when it surveyed its nearly 1 million Australian supporters last year found the issue to be of lowest priority – it was number 16 out of 16 in importance!
d. Isn’t the result inevitable? The Brexit vote, like our republican referendum, are important reminders not to take for granted the silent majority. Whether the upcoming plebiscite shows support for redefining marriage or not, the issue will continue to be the subject of debate. Whether you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it can be said in love.
Source: Opinion piece by Mark Brown Tasmanian Director of ACL
A BATTLE OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND THE RIGHT TO DIE
For a society that values life and the right to life so greatly that our personal instincts and our laws are structured around the protection of life, we seem to be overly sympathetic to the idea of euthanasia – that if someone is truly suffering they should be given the opportunity to allow a medical practitioner to end their life. But what is the threshold to receive this “right”? Some would argue that euthanasia should only be legal or available where the patient is suffering from a terminal illness. But this is not always the case. Controversial campaigning doctor Philip Nitschke was criticised for his views as he advocated for the “right” to assisted suicide by individuals who were not physically ill.
There is something unsettling about the idea of a human being strapped to a computer that can inject a lethal syringe after the person types the words “go ahead”, without any counselling or consultancy. How can we value life and yet as a society agree that it can be taken away based on an individual’s will? What we are left with is a battle of the rights – the right to die versus the right to life. Which will prevail will depend on what is valued. Do we value life, or our sense of autonomy, and not needing to be accountable to anyone else other than ourselves? In Belgium last year, an 85-year-old woman was approved for assisted suicide because she was so distressed after learning about her daughter’s death.
She was physically healthy, and on hearing this we find ourselves asking whether she would have pursued assisted suicide once a few months had passed and the initial shock had worn off. Unfortunately, we will never know. More than 8000 people have been euthanised in Belgium, where assisted suicide has been legal for 13 years. There, patients don’t have to be terminally ill, just found by a medical doctor to be suffering “incurable, unbearable pain”.
Is this the route we want Australia to pursue? It may begin that it is available only for terminally ill patients, but history and the rest of the world tell us that it’s only a matter of time before the scope is widened.So what is that threshold then? Could severe depression suffice? Our moral instinct tells us that it shouldn’t.
We live in a society where so many organisations are actively seeking to reduce suicide and improve mental health, and yet others are campaigning for the right to take their own life. For an individual with a terminal illness, a sympathetic view is commonly shared that the person will die anyway, and what euthanasia does is alleviate the pain and suffering of that individual by simply “speeding” up the process. But one needs to consider, what type of society we are creating for ourselves when we allow doctors – whose purpose is to protect and save life – to now be able to take it away. No one should be left to die in pain, and perhaps what “dying with dignity” really looks like is having the best palliative care and pain treatments available, rather than ending a life.
We should be lobbying our governments to invest in better health care, and the newest technology available for terminally ill patients, rather than for the right of medically trained professionals to take away the life of another.
Source: An opinion piece by ACL WA Director Dahlia Messiha
OCTOBER TO BE A MONTH OF PRAYER FOR FAMILY AND MARRIAGE
Christians across the nation and across the denominational spectrum are coming together in concerted prayer during October, at a time when the Federal parliament will be considering changes to the structure of marriage in this country. The initiative, which came from the Catholic Church’s Marriage and Family Council, is being strongly supported by many Christian denominations as well as many of the Orthodox Churches that are represented in Australia. Many other Christian organisations and networks have also picked up on the initiative. Key Christian Aboriginal leaders are also supporting this call for prayer and fasting to protect marriage from redefinition.
The Australian Prayer Network, which believes all Christians must stand in solidarity on this issue if the threat to traditional marriage is to be defeated, is encouraging all our members to join in the month of prayer with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Each week we will publish prayer points covering the focus being followed by all Churches, organisations and networks. Those who wish to add an element of fasting to the call to prayer are free to choose how they will engage in that aspect of the call. The threat to traditional marriage is the greatest threat to religious freedom and freedom of association we have seen in Australia in our lifetime and the consequences of losing this battle goes well beyond the headline issue of “marriage equality”.
This week commencing 1st October, the focus of the prayer thrust will be praying for the flourishing of marriages and families in Australia. Please pray:
* that our families would rediscover the sacredness and beauty of God’s plan for families and marriage.
* that our families will be places enriched by the presence of God, directed by His word and empowered by prayer.
* that our families will be an example to the world of what true love looks like, of how individual lives can be enriched by being part of a family that is committed to serve, honour and respect each other in love.