Bishop threatens to abandon registering all marriages if Yes vote wins

A Western Australian Anglican Bishop is threatening to stop registering all marriages should the YES campaign be successful in the marriage postal survey.

Gary Nelson, the Bishop of the diocese of North West Australia, has told The West Australian that he will stop all marriages, if he’s not satisfied with the details of the legislation that will allow same sex couples to have civil weddings.

The Bishop said the government should have provided a specific bill for people to consider prior to holding the national postal vote. Bishop Nelson expressed his concern that there would not be sufficient religious exemptions.

“If we are in a situation where there aren’t enough religious exemptions regarding marry same sex people, then we have to pull out from being celebrants, so just withdraw all approvals for everyone.” Bishop Nelson told the newspaper.

While the private members bill put forward by Liberal Senator Dean Smith contains exemptions for churches, and celebrants from a religious background, many Christian organisations have argued that it does not go far enough.

Bishop Nelson said one of his concerns is that same sex couples may want to hire buildings owned by the church and they may be able to refuse them service. The Bishop said the provisions outlined in previous marriage bills were “barely adequate”.

The Bishops’ threat to stop the registration of all marriages, highlights the division within the Anglican Church over the issue of marriage equality.

The diocese of Sydney this week revealed they had donated $1 million dollars to the Coalition for Marriage, the organisers of the ‘no’ campaign. Other Anglican Ministers however have voiced their support for marriage equality in the civil sphere.

All of the bills put forward to date have included exceptions for religious organisations.

On Wednesday Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, told Sky News that adequate protections for freedom of speech and religious freedom needed to be guaranteed prior to the marriage laws being changed.

Shelton told Laura Jaynes host of The Morning Shift that he was not prepared to outline what he thought those specific protections should be, arguing that the responsibility lay with those asking for the laws to be changed.

The spokeman for the ‘No’ campaign said was his opponents who needed to answer the question, “What will you do to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion?’

Shelton said there was a pretense within the ‘Yes’ campaign that there would be no consequences to changing the marriage laws, but argued there would be huge ramifications for society.

Jaynes pushed Shelton to be specific about what protections he was seeking, saying she didn’t believe “for one mad minute” that he hadn’t given the issue great thought.

“There should be some sort of anti-detriment provision, if the ‘Yes’ camp is serious about there being no changes to people of speech and freedom of religion, then tell us how they are going amend anti-discrimination law.”

OIP Staff

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