Same-sex marriage became front-page news in Orange this week as two political candidates jostled for the electorate of Calare, which also includes the towns Bathurst, Cowra and Lithgow.

Greens candidate for the Senate, Jeremy Buckingham, claimed the website of National Party candidate Robert Griffith contained homophobic comments which bordered on inciting violence against gays.

Buckingham referred to a piece Griffith, a Baptist minister in Orange, wrote supporting the ban on gay marriage. In his article Griffith said the idea that same-sex partners could masquerade as real parents and be responsible for raising children was abhorrent to most people.

We are facing the very real threat of our whole nation being shaped by a few vocal minority groups. [Marriage between one man and one woman must be protected] before it is too late and we face consequences in future generations which can and will bring this nation to its knees.

Buckingham told SSO he believed Griffith’s views were not popular in Calare, an area he called very diverse and with a strong gay community.

Griffith thinks we still live in 1950 but he’s wrong. And for a mainstream political candidate and pastor to be implying these things gives people the wrong message, Buckingham said.

Griffith argued his comments were not discriminatory and that the Greens were trying to paint him as a homophobe.

This has nothing to do with personal lifestyle choices, he told the Star.

It has to do with the definition of marriage in the commonwealth legislation, which was always assumed to be that between a male and female.

I’ve got a long-standing reputation as being a friend of those who are homosexual. Through the church ministry here I’ve been preaching against the negative attitudes people have and I’ve been attacked from other ministers around the world saying I’m too soft on homosexuals.

Colleen Toole from PFLAG Bathurst said there was no doubt in her mind Griffith’s comments were discriminatory.

Mr Griffith uses the term -˜lifestyle choice’ several times in his article demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of homosexuality, Toole said.

There are many gay men and women who would make excellent parents. I fail to see how recognising same-sex unions is a threat to the traditional role of marriage.

Marriage Equality Australia spokesperson Luke Gahan went further, describing Griffith’s comments as completely bizarre.

I don’t see what he’s worried about. It’s not like straight women will start marrying straight women if the law changes, Gahan said.

He’s using fear as his campaign tool, just as Pauline Hanson did.

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