The Rev Dr Jason John of Bellingen Uniting Church and the Mid North Coast Presbytery got a rude shock when he opened his mail last month to find a letter from NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner, asking him to take part in a petition campaign opposing adoption rights for same-sex couples.
Stoner, a father of six, allowed his MPs a conscience vote on the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Same-Sex Relationship) Bill 2008, which changed 25 pieces of legislation to allow for equal rights for same-sex and de facto couples.
However, he remains stridently opposed to same-sex couples adopting or being allowed to marry.
“My initial response was that out of all the things that politicians and churches might be interested in helping with, there’s just such a long list of more important things than stopping same-sex couples from adopting,” Rev Dr John said.
The letter sat on John’s desk for several weeks before he replied, but his response to Stoner was unequivocal.
“Dear Andrew,” he wrote. “As minister of a church, I recently received your petition to stop homosexual couples adopting children.
“I think the church has a long enough history of encouraging unwarranted and often violent discrimination against homosexual people, without me adding further to it by circulating this petition. I am not aware of any fundamental human right of being raised by a mother and a father, and wonder if this petition indicates that the Nationals will be supporting the movement for a bill of human rights in Australia?
“Finally, I find it extremely sad that out of all of the issues facing us as a nation and a global community, you would waste time and money distributing a petition on this issue … claiming that it has high priority.
“As far as I can recall this is the only issue you have sent me or my church a petition [on] in the last two years… Yours sincerely, and in the deep hope and prayer that the National Party can reorganise its apparent priorities.”
John is yet to receive a reply from Stoner.
Sydney Star Observer has since discovered that the petition sent by Stoner is identical to one being circulated by Family First MLC, the Rev Gordon Moyes.
A report by the Legislative Council’s Law and Justice Committee, tabled in July, recommended that same-sex couples be allowed to adopt in NSW.