Prayer for equality
THE Reverend Peter Manuel is looking forward to the day he can legally marry same-sex couples at St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Subiaco. “I understand marriage equality in Australia is the start of saying, ultimately, ‘We recognise that same-sex attracted people are worthy of everything heterosexual people are’,” Mr Manuel said. “It might appear to be controversial but in 10 or 15 years, after the dust has settled, this will be ho-hum.” Mr Manuel welcomed all Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI) people to his church during a speech to about 5000 people at the Love In Perth marriage equality rally earlier this month. “My predecessor set up a six o’clock healing service during the height of Aids, which has today become a welcoming, inclusive service, especially for LGBTI people,” he said. “When I came here six and a half years ago, I knew it was important to carry on that legacy.”
DEBATE over legalising same-sex marriage is heating up in Australia, with a private member’s bill expected to be presented to Federal Parliament in August.
Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage at a referendum in May, while the US Supreme Court struck down its state marriage bans last month.
Priest Peter Manuel, of St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Subiaco, said Australia was now the last English-speaking nation yet to deal with the issue.
“Religion often reflects the situation we are in historically,” Mr Manuel said.
“The truth is, our views on marriage and relationships have changed dramatically just in the last 70 years.
“For example, until the early 1950s, a woman who was a schoolteacher would have to stop working when she got married.”
Mr Manuel said the church office had received several phone calls in response to his speech at a GetUp! rally on July 5.
“One person called directly to say I was totally wrong, and I replied that we clearly had different ideas of Christianity,” he said.
“Certainly the biggest obstacle is going to be the church, as it is a very complex and conservative organisation.
“There is a lot of emotional attachment to the word ‘marriage’.
“To many people, marriage has always been constructed as a man and woman, and I suppose they believe this word has been hijacked for something else. However, if you look at the patriarchs of the Bible such as King David or Solomon, marriage is between a man, multiple women and his concubines. If our views change, religion changes with it. It always has and it always will.”
Mr Manuel said his greatest task as a priest was to use modern language and experiences to talk to his congregation about God.
“The arguments that are being put forward do not add up. The politicians, for whatever reason, are reluctant to take it to a free vote. But I suspect it will go through without a problem. The world will not stop moving,” he said.
Mr Manuel said he never pushed couples in his congregation into getting married.
“I am much more interested in how they treat one another – how do they treat their children, how do they treat other people, how do they function within the community?” he said.
“As far as I’m concerned, the value of a person comes from how they live out what they believe.
“Whether Christians live out being loving is far more important to me than whether they are gay or straight.”
Another rally in support of samesex marriage will be held at Murray Street Mall on August 9.
Reverend Peter Manuel spoke at the Love In Perth rally for marriage equality. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d440509