Action Alert April 2016

This is an archived edition of Action Alert.

Labor Leader Commits to Not Allowing Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Exemptions

Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition, has declared that he opposed allowing any exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that would allow people to refuse to supply ‘goods and services’ to homosexual couples.

Speaking at the “Why Knot?” event in Sydney on 31 March 2016, Mr Shorten reiterated that an ALP Government would introduce amendments to the Marriage Act and hold a parliamentary debate on the issue within 100 days of gaining office. If such an ALP Government had the numbers in both Houses of Parliament, the Marriage Act would be changed to allow any two persons to ‘marry’. Following his speech, he was specifically questioned about whether he would “rule out allowing bakers not to sell cakes to gay weddings”. Mr Shorten replied, “It’s not allowed now under the current law – why would we water down existing laws? We don’t need to water down anti-discrimination law to keep some people [who oppose same-sex ‘marriage’] happy.” Mr Shorten also said that if such exemptions were put in place, an ALP Government would repeal them at the earliest opportunity.

Of course, it is currently unlawful to discriminate against anyone in the provision of goods and services, but same-sex ‘marriage’ is not legal in Australia, so same-sex ‘weddings’ do not occur. Bakers, florists, wedding venue managers, and photographers currently do not have to weigh up whether they are able – in good conscience – to provide goods and services for same-sex ‘weddings’ simply because such ‘weddings’ do not occur in Australia. However, if same-sex ‘marriage’ is legalised, those people who supply such goods and services will be required to do so, even if such business goes against their conscience. It has been suggested that exemptions to the anti-discrimination laws ought to be put in place that would allow businesses servicing the wedding industry to decline providing services to same-sex ‘weddings’ if same-sex ‘marriage’ is against the beliefs of the business owners. Mr Shorten has committed an ALP Government to not allowing any such exemptions.

In effect, this would mean that a baker, a florist, a wedding venue manager, or a photographer who considered that marriage is only a one-man-one-woman relationship would not be allowed to refuse to service a same-sex ‘wedding’ on the grounds of his or her conscience. He or she would face legal action under the anti-discrimination laws if he or she did refuse, and if found guilty, would incur hefty fines that would possibly drive him or her out of business (as has happened in other countries where same-sex ‘marriage’ has been legalised).

It is important to realise that a redefinition of marriage does not just affect the churches and ministers of religion. Usually the proponents of so-called marriage ‘equality’ emphasise that there would be exemptions for churches and ministers of religion so that they would not be required to host and officiate at same-sex ‘weddings’ (although in other countries where marriage has been redefined and such exemptions are initially put in place, the same-sex activists begin to chip away at those exemptions and seek to have the exemptions removed). However, there are people involved in business in the wedding industry who would also be affected by a redefinition of marriage, and those people will not be granted any initial exemptions if same-sex ‘marriage’ was legalised (at least under an ALP Government).

Contact Mr Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition [PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600, or telephone (02) 62774022, or email through the website http://www.aph.gov.au/B_Shorten_MP] to firstly state your opposition to any changes to the Marriage Act that would legalise same-sex ‘marriage’. Then advise Mr Shorten that you believe that, if the Marriage Act is changed in the future, there ought to be exemptions from anti-discrimination laws for anyone in the wedding industry who – in good conscience – could not supply goods and services to same-sex ‘weddings’.

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Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?
Psalm 94:16

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This monthly release is prepared by Pastor Brian Robertson (P O Box 2367, Bundaberg, 4670) to inform Christian people about issues within our society.  “Action Alert” does not promote any one political party, but encourages its readers to be “salt and light” by speaking out on some of these matters.  The views expressed in “Action Alert” are those of the author and are not necessarily those of a local church or a denominational organisation.  To the extent permissible by law, no church or denomination accepts liability for anything contained in this publication and any use made of it.