Religious exemptions should be extended to all
Any exemptions for ministers of religion and religious bodies in a samesex marriage law will not be sufficient to protect freedom of religious belief and practice unless they extend to all members of religious bodies and organisations — not just to ministers of religion but to all adherents of those religions.
It is inconsistent and illogical to create exemptions for ministers of religion but not extend them to individual religious adherents.
In respect of beliefs about who can contract marriage, there is no distinction between ministers and those to whom they minister; the beliefs of a religious body normally define members of that body or organisation, not simply the ministers.
It would be quite inconsistent if a minister of religion could refuse to celebrate a wedding between two persons of the same sex, while an adherent of the same religion — holding precisely the same views — could be prosecuted by a same-sex couple (under the Sex Discrimination Act) if that adherent refuses to provide goods or services to the couple.
Simply creating exemptions for churches and ministers of religion, but not for adherents of those churches, will not protect religious freedom in any meaningful way. Joseph Parkinson, director, L. J. Goody Bioethics Centre, Mt Hawthorn, WA I remember the introduction of “no fault” divorce and the outcry that it would destroy the family, the very foundation of our society. Today, few would want to return to the old “fault” provisions of divorce law.
We are now being told that allowing gay people to marry will destroy the family. Gay people deserve to be treated like the rest of us who were born non-gay. Colin White, Townsville, Qld In the case of a successful Yes campaign, the law will require everybody to hold the same view about what the word marriage means, perhaps with some specific religious and conscience exceptions.
Those who fall outside those specifically legislated protections, will not be shielded from litigation. The reality is that a substantial proportion of the population will never accept the LGBTI view of marriage, particularly those who believe strongly in tra- ditional marriage. When will we ever wake up to the simple fact that we cannot legislate belief?
Same-sex marriage will only increase discord in society, in a society that looks increasingly for a stabilising anchor. Peter R. Tredenick, Paddington, Qld Judging by comments made in Saturday’s letters to the editor, a person may legitimately oppose changes to the Marriage Act without having any animus towards same-sex attracted people. Nor does love entail agreement with someone else’s ideology or lifestyle.
The bullying and intimidation directed against those voting No is evidenced by the reluctance of many to openly identify with this position. I doubt that anyone proposing to vote Yes feels the need to keep quiet about their position; they wear their views like a badge of honour. Bruce Armstrong, Buderim, Qld Malcolm Turnbull says he places religious freedom ahead of same-sex marriage and promises us he will ensure such freedom is enshrined in the SSM legislation (“PM’s focus on free- dom for religion”, 16/9). But at the last election, Turnbull also promised a plebiscite on the issue. Where is it?
The fact is Turnbull can’t guarantee anything; he is powerless. So what if Bill Shorten promises the same thing with bipartisanship on the issue? Would you believe a bloke who refuses a full plebiscite?
If it was not good enough for the SSM legislation to be on the table before we cast a vote on the matter, it is a second thought for our politicians and none of them can be trusted to act in our best interest. John George, Terrigal, NSW Ian Hunter (Letters, 16/9) wants to know “what sort of bigotry is driving this anti-gay marriage campaign”. Why can’t we redefine marriage, or deconstruct it, or shake it up a bit? The most compelling reason to leave marriage between a man and a woman undisturbed is because it is the ideal state in which to bring up children.
Children do best psychologically and academically when raised in this environment. To support this is not bigotry, but to advocate for the best interests of children and for society. Dale Ellis, Travancore, Vic