Prayer for equal­ity

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By ROSANNA CAN­DLER

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 Ritchie­mu­ni­ d440509

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