St Michael’s church leader Sandy Grant has expressed fears about what could happen if same-sex marriage is legalised at a public lecture attended by about 100 people.
As postal surveys arrived in letterboxes, Rev Grant said he was “not about directing people how to vote from the pulpit”, but wanted to offer “robust reasons for no”, and “thoughtful and non-hateful reasons that cause concern about same-sex marriage”.
Early in the hour-long sermon, which included a reading of Christian marriage vows, he dismissed the idea that talking about children was “a distraction and irrelevance”.
He acknowledged the “yes” argument had labelled the “no” focus on children a “red herring”. Equality advocates have highlighted that heterosexual couples may be married without children, and noted it is already legal for same-sex couples to have children without being married.
Rev Grant suggested United Nations covenants on civil and political rights and the rights children were implicitly in favour of “traditional” marriage.
“The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognised,” he quoted from the covenant.
He said he believed that “the natural assumption is that this article about marriage concerns the union of a man and a women who are raising children of their sexual union together.”
Addressing the “yes” call for equality, Rev Grant said children deserved “an equal chance to have a relationship with their own mother and father”.
He also argued same-sex couples were treated “almost indistinguishably” from opposite-sex relationships under the law except the “name of marriage”.
“The equality being demanded goes beyond any requirement for legal protections of same-sex couples, and shifts the whole debate to something else: a state endorsed validation of the relationship,” he said.
At the end of his lecture, Mr Grant spoke of a “slippery slope” that could occur when same-sex marriage is legalised. For instance, he believed removing the need for people of the opposite sex to marry could lead to polygamy or under-age marriage.
“Some Muslims are already pushing this… the legalisation of marriage in Australian to allow polygamy,” he said.
“This shows the sheer inadequacy of the love is love slogan. Do you think a 30-year-old man should be able to marry a 12-year-old girl if they both consent and say they love each other?”
He also raised fears about freedom of speech and religion, saying Christians could face discrimination if marriage laws are changed.
He said, for example, overseas bakers and priests had been subject to legal action for refusing to work with gay couples.
“To force a Christian, or Muslim for that matter, to celebrate gay marriage by their artistry, their preaching, it’s like forcing a Jewish printer to print flyers for a lecture series denying the holocaust. Or trying to force a gay baker to bake a cake for Fred Nile in his anti-mardi gras campaign.
“Even if you might be willing to accept a change to recognise a same-sex union as a marriage under the secular law in Australia, if you have any concern for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, then you should be very careful before voting yes.”