Almost 16,000 people have called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to meet with pro-gay marriage Christians to counter the Australian Christian Lobby’s influence in Canberra.

Melbourne’s Collins Street Baptist Church Reverend Carolyn Francis began her online petition in August which has now collected about 15,900 signatures.

She told the Star Observer the petition had just outgrown the Australian Christian Lobby’s estimated 15,000 members.

The petition started following he ACL’s announcement that the Prime Minister would be the keynote speaker at its national conference.

“I think there has been a sense that they [ACL] speak on the behalf of all of us and that their opposition to marriage equality is something that is a, or the, Christian position,” she said.

“I think it’s very dangerous for any of us to be claiming we speak on behalf of Australian Christians.”

Francis said the petition had grown faster than she expected and added it had collected more members than the ACL’s entire membership base.

While the PM has since rescinded her invite to the conference following offensive comments by ACL director Jim Wallace, Francis still wants to meet with the PM.

Initially, the PM’s office had not agreed to meet with pro-gay marriage Christians but Francis said she was hopeful for future meeting requests.

Some well-noted Christian federal politicians such as federal Opposition Whip Warren Entsch and Labor Senator Ursula Stephens have distanced themselves from the ACL’s comments.

Freedom2b Melbourne chapter leader Michelle Kolev agreed with Francis.

She said the ACL did not speak on behalf of all Christian Churches since churches like the Collins Street Baptist Church had spoken out.

“They’ve decided to stand up and say ‘we’re speaking on behalf of Christian Churches’ but they’re actually not,” she said of the ACL.

“They’re speaking on behalf of a group of very forthright Christians who hold this opinion and they’re entitle to this opinion but it’s absolutely unfair that they feel it’s ok to speak for the rest of the Christian majority.”

Kolev said there were many Freedom2b members who had been in long term relationships and wanted marriage.

“We pose no threat to the instituion of marriage,” she said.

“In fact, we’re long term partners, a lot of us own homes and pay taxes and do the same thing as everybody else so we think it’s our fair right to get married as well, or at least have the choice if we choose to.”

INFO: Sign the petition here.

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