A group of prominent Australian Christian clergy have put their support for same-sex marriage on the record a day before Christian opponents of marriage equality stage a rally in the Great Hall of Parliament in Canberra.
The Uniting Church, Baptist and Anglican clergy made their statements following the launch of a new Christian campaign for marriage equality, Christians For Gay Marriage, on Friday through which 9,400 Australian Christians have already sent letters to their MPs since its website (www.christians4equality.com.au) was launched.
The clergy’s statements also appear on the campaign’s website.
“As the founder of the Christians For Gay Marriage lobby group and as someone who is an ordained minister with a same gendered partner I strongly support the right of GLBTI people to marry,” wrote Blackwood Uniting Church minister Leanne Jenski in her statement.
“I long for the day when my partner Susan and I can finally marry with the full blessing of the ‘church and state’. God is not against us but unfortunately some Christians are. Be assured there are many Christians out there who stand in solidarity with us.”
“Today in Australia we all live in a secular non-discriminatory society,” wrote Exodus Foundation founder and Ashfield Uniting Church minister Bill Crews (pictured), “Gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple.”
“If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimises all marriages.”
“How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done?” wrote Rowland Croucher of John Mark Ministries, “Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some – like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.”
“When a couple want to be part of the institution of marriage, when they fully accept the same rights and responsibilities of marriage and treat marriage with the respect it deserves, why should they not get married?” wrote Lilydale Baptist Church pastor Matt Glover, “As a Christian minister, I believe that marriage is under threat from many angles, but also believe that recognizing same-sex unions will help return marriage to its rightful place in society.”
“As a follower of Jesus I believe in the principle of radical hospitality,” wrote St James’ Uniting Canberra minister Roger Munson, “This is at the heart of his message.”
“As Christians we need to support those who are excluded and challenge those who through exclusion dehumanise and discriminate. I urge you to join the campaign to welcome our GLBT friends to express their love and commitment to each other through this special rite.”
“From a Christian point of view, marriage is an institution designed to serve two social needs – [to] contribute broadly to social stability [and to] provide a stable environment for the nurturing of children,” wrote Fr Dave Smith of Holy Trinity Church, Dulwich Hill.
“If this is the case then the only questions Christians need to concern themselves with when it comes to the issue of gay marriage are … Would gay marriage lead to greater social stability, [and] Would a married gay partnership be likely to provide a more secure environment for the nurturing of the children of a gay couple than an unmarried one?”
“In matters of faith it is difficult for the heart to remain where the head cannot,” wrote Tasmanian Uniting Church minister David Hunnerup, “Honest theological reflection in this modern era makes it impossible to see homosexual orientation and behaviour as aberrant or sinful.
“Right relationships emerge out of moral and ethical decision making, not gay or straight orientation. I make my case for same sex marriage here.”
Also contributing statements were Centre for Human Potential psychologist Paul Martin, and Sandy Miller – a lesbian Christian, who, along with her partner, will attend a dinner with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, paid for by GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality AME) later this year.
“We want politicians to understand that marriage equality is not about ‘God versus the gays’, but about principles like justice and inclusion that have support across many faith communities”, AME spokesman, Malcolm McPherson said.
“We urge all Christians who support marriage equality to email their local MP.”
The group of Christian clergy join the Unitarians, Quakers and the Metropolitan Community Church in publicly supporting same-sex marriage in Australia, while Christians For Gay Marriage join an existing Jewish Community supporting Marriage Equality campaign.
The Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand put their support for same-sex marriage on the record in June.