A group of 15 multifaith clergy has written to all 150 Lower House MPs, calling on them to support a motion backing religious groups who don’t want to marry same-sex couples.
The motion, introduced by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie this year, states that if the Marriage Act is changed to allow gay marriage, churches would not be obligated to perform such ceremonies.
It is expected to be debated in coming weeks.
“While the issue of same-sex marriage is supported by some churches and opposed by others, one area that all churches would agree on is that religious ministers should be under no obligation to perform same-sex marriages if it does not accord with the doctrines of their faith,” the clergy’s letter read.
The group includes Baptist, Uniting, Anglican, Jewish, and Metropolitan Community Church clergy from across Australia.
Canberra Uniting Church Reverend Roger Munson said he believes there is support for change in faith groups.
“Some clergy support same-sex marriage, some don’t,” Munson said.
“The law should give churches permission to celebrate marriage according to their particular faith.
“Mr Wilkie’s motion underlines this principle, and should satisfy both sides of the issue.”
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said a poll conducted last year showed 53 percent support for change among Christians.
“We hope this motion will send a clear message that the proposed amendments to the Marriage Act are about civil marriage, and will not affect the way any church chooses to practise or define marriage,” he said.
“We hope support for this motion sends a clear message to [Qld MP] Bob Katter, the Australian Christian Lobby and other concerned groups that we come in peace”.
A Senate committee is looking into the issue of same-sex marriage and accepting submissions from the public. The deadline for submissions is April 2.