Australian Christians for Marriage Equality has announced its endorsement of senator Dean Smith’s Marriage Amendment Bill, declaring there is no basis for any new rights to discriminate against LGBTI people.

“There is increasing expectation the postal survey will deliver a Yes verdict on Wednesday,” said Rev. Dr Margaret Mayman, chair of Australian Christians for Marriage Equality.

“In recent days we have witnessed a growing chorus of conservative voices attempting to derail the people’s will for marriage equality with dangerous suggestions about adding new rights to discriminate.

“Let us be clear: there is no basis in either democratic principles or the practice of Christian faith for undermining marriage equality with new forms of discrimination against LGBTI people.”

Conservative Liberals have drafted a new bill, released today by Senator James Paterson, that enshrines the right of service providers to refuse to serve same-sex couples.

Smith’s bill has already been subject to a cross party Senate committee, and was built upon the findings of a Senate inquiry.

Rev. Dr Peter Catt, Dean of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, said, “Since the beginning of this survey, we have had a clear and simple message: all people are equally loved by God and deserve to be treated equally under the law.

“Suggestions that churches or individual people of faith need additional exemptions from the rules governing everyone else are groundless, and contradict the teachings of our faith.

“Jesus taught us to treat others how we want to be treated ourselves. The Dean Smith bill does that.

“The proposed bill from Senator Paterson is a shameful attempt to unwind anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTI people. It would legalise homophobia. This kind of treatment would not be acceptable for any other group of people in our country. We call on parliament to reject this bill and support the considered and balanced bill from Senator Smith.”

Pastor Brad Chilcott of Activate Church in Adelaide said that Smith’s bill protects religious freedom.

“For some religious celebrants that will mean not officiating at the marriages of LGBTI couples, in the same way that some do not marry divorced persons or couples of different faiths. Other faith communities will delight in being able to offer marriage to LGBTI people,” he said.

“The true intent of Senator Paterson’s alternate bill is to remind LGBTI Australians that some people will never accept them as equals, to make sure they know their place as second class citizens.

“People who have always opposed marriage equality need to accept that the majority of Australians have seen through the fear campaign and have instead embraced equality for their LGBTI family members, friends and co-workers.

“There can be no more stalling tactics or attempts to subvert the clear will of the Australian people. It is time for the parliament to do its job, and pass the bill proposed by Dean Smith before Christmas.”

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