Bishop pon­ders ‘No’ to all mar­riage

Geraldton Guardian - - News - Phoebe Wearne

The con­ser­va­tive Angli­can Bishop of North West WA said his clergy would aban­don reg­is­ter­ing mar­riages if the Yes vote pre­vails in the same-sex mar­riage sur­vey and re­li­gious pro­tec­tions are weak.

Crit­i­cis­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the postal sur­vey, Bishop of North West Aus­tralia Gary Nel­son said de­tails of the leg­is­la­tion should have been re­leased be­fore the vote be­gan. He warned that if re­li­gious pro­tec­tions fell short, the dio­cese would have to with­draw from pro­vid­ing all mar­riage ap­provals.

“If we are in a sit­u­a­tion where there isn’t enough re­li­gious ex­emp­tions re­gard­ing mar­ry­ing same-sex peo­ple, then we’d have to pull out from be­ing cel­e­brants, so just with­draw all the ap­provals for ev­ery­one,” Bishop Nel­son said.

“Even if we with­drew li­cences and a same-sex cou­ple came in say­ing, ‘We want to use your build­ing’, and we say no, will we have a right to say no to a use of our build­ing?

“All of those things are still un­clear.”

There is a split be­tween the Ger­ald­ton-based North West dio­cese and Angli­can lead­ers in Perth, sev­eral of whom have pub­licly backed the Yes cam­paign.

Bishop Nel­son said the north­ern dio­cese, which cov­ers ap­prox­i­mately 80 per cent of WA, would not act on mar­riage ap­provals un­less it had to, but pro­tec­tions pro­posed in the past had been “barely ad­e­quate” and it re­mained un­clear which would be­come law.

While there would prob­a­bly be some pro­tec­tions in place for re­li­gious min­is­ters, there was ev­i­dence over­seas where gay mar­riage had been le­galised of pro­tec­tions be­ing “whit­tled away” and “con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors” be­ing left ex­posed.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull, who backs same-sex mar­riage, has said that if a Yes vote pre­vails, Par­lia­ment will de­bate the leg­is­la­tion and safe­guards.

A group of con­ser­va­tive MPs is un­der­stood to be pre­par­ing a Bill to change the Mar­riage Act, with pro­tec­tion for re­li­gious free­doms and those who op­pose same-sex mar­riage “be­yond the cer­e­mony”.

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