Australia says yes to same-sex marriage

The Australian public has voted on same-sex marriage. 61.6 per cent say yes.

The Australian Statistician, David Kalisch, who heads up the Australian Bureau of Statistics made the announcement at 10am today from Canberra.

Lyle Shelton, head of the Australian Christian Lobby and the loudest voice from the ‘No’ campaign, has called it a “David and Goliath” battle but says he accepts the decision.

“I respect the democratic vote of the Australian people and congratulate the Yes campaign and their supporters,” Shelton told Eternity.

“What the parliament needs to do now, in legislating for same-sex marriage, is to do so in a way which protects people’s liberties,” — Sydney Anglican Archbishop, Glenn Davies.

He says it’s now important to focus on the type of laws that will be enacted to allow same-sex marriage.

“Given the Yes campaign said concerns about freedoms were ‘red herrings’, it is important they now support a bill in the Parliament that allows same-sex marriage while at the same time protecting freedom of speech, religion and parents’ rights.”

Given the very high threshold of people voting, Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said he recognised that it was now “quite proper” for the parliament to legislate for same-sex marriage in accordance with the will of the people. The Anglican Diocese donated $1 million to the No campaign.

While he would continue to teach that God’s plan for marriage is between a man and a woman, he acknowledged that this would no longer be the law of the land.

“The consequences, then, are – what happens to people who want to hold to that truth?” he said.

“There’s still a long way to go in the political world to deliver real inclusion and equality,” — Brad Chilcott, Australian Christians for Marriage Equality

“It is one thing to say, for example, we don’t have laws against adultery in this country, but I still want to say adultery is wrong – it is immoral. I want to be able to uphold that teaching without the law saying to me – no, it is not illegal, you can’t say that.”

Davies said he was concerned about the coercive effect of changing the definition of marriage in other Western countries in restricting people’s ability to hold a different point of view.

“Therefore what the parliament needs to do now, in legislating for same-sex marriage, is to do so in a way which protects people’s liberties,” he said.

The vote “does not change the truth about marriage.” — Lyle Shelton, Australian Christian Lobby

Lyle Shelton told Eternity that he supported a new same-sex marriage bill introduced by Liberal senator James Paterson this week, which would allow “conscientious objectors” to refuse to participate in a same-sex marriage if it goes against their beliefs.

The bill offers an alternative to the Marriage Amendment Bill put forward by another Liberal senator, Dean Smith. This is widely held to be the most likely bill to be used to legalise same-sex marriage in the event of a ‘yes’ result.

Smith’s bill provides an exemption to allow churches and religious organisations to refuse to conduct or provide services to same-sex weddings. Paterson’s bill extends that refusal to individuals and businesses, such as cake-makers and florists.

Brad Chilcott, pastor at Activate Church in Adelaide and part of Australian Christians for Marriage Equality, says while he believes the Yes vote is good news, there is still a struggle to be had over how to implement the will of the people.

“For LGBTI people, this isn’t yet the end, even though this is a positive step forward. There’s still a long way to go in the political world to deliver real inclusion and equality,” he told Eternity.

Australian Christians for Marriage Equality announced their support this week for the Dean Smith bill. Chair of the group, Rev Dr Margaret Mayman, who is also minister at Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, said “in recent days we have witnessed a growing chorus of conservative voices attempting to derail the people’s will for marriage equality with dangerous suggestions about adding new rights to discriminate.”

“Let us be clear: there is no basis in either democratic principles or the practice of Christian faith for undermining marriage equality with new forms of discrimination against LGBTI people,” Dr Mayman said in a statement.

Lyle Shelton says the vote “does not change the truth about marriage.”

“This means that being faithful to the Biblical definition of marriage means being a dissenter – a role faithful Christians should embrace with grace, courage and resolve.”

12.6 million Australians participated in the controversial postal ballot (of 16 million eligible voters). The process cost $122 million.