Bishop Peter Ingham seeks the support of the faithful in opposing the re-definition of marriage
Currently there are critical inquiries being conducted by Federal Parliament regarding attempts to redefine marriage. These inquiries are a likely pre-cursor to votes on Bills that will attempt to recognise same-sex unions as marriage. The consequences of such a profoundly radical step – changing the legal definition of marriage – are very serious. I want to ask you, our Catholic people, to make a stand to protect the traditional understanding of marriage.
The definition of marriage does not unfairly discriminate against same-sex couples because it is simply a reflection of the natural and historical reality that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is not confined to the recognition of adult relationships but equally relates to family as providing the environment for the nurturing and the welfare of children. Marriage is a unique institution that deserves the protection of government.
The same-sex marriage debate is not a specifically a religious question because we are debating the radical step of changing the definition of conjugal marriage, which is the most fundamental and ancient building block of civil society.
Because the Churches have come to represent the only significant organised opposition to the Greens’ Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and Mr Stephen Jones’ Marriage Amendment Bill 2012, it has been all too easy to represent this debate as Christians opposing gay people, which is not the case.
In fact, the Churches are really giving a voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them, the voiceless majority, most of whom never go to church but who believe that the current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, should be retained.
Churches are easily accused of dictating their version of marriage to the rest of society, whereas in fact conjugal marriage pre-dates Christianity by many hundreds of centuries.
As citizens, Christians have the same rights as everyone else to play a part in public debates in our society. Christians too, like any citizens, should also be free to testify, argue, protest or affirm their position in the public square.
Extending the meaning of marriage to include same-sex partnerships would alter the meaning of marriage for everyone and subsequent generations may well be taught that marriage between a man and a woman is no different from a partnership between two people of the same sex.
If this legislation is passed, marriage as traditionally defined would no longer exist. Marriage would come to be merely a contract between two adults.
Christian people argue for retaining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, out of their conviction about its necessity for the common good of society and out of their longstanding tradition with the wisdom it brings.
Make your opinion known
Attached to this letter are a number of documents that make arguments for traditional marriage. You may find them helpful for your own formation, and to articulate the reasons for the legitimate desire to protect the institution of marriage.
I would ask Catholics, indeed any concerned citizens, to send submissions to the Senate and House of Representatives’ inquiries on the same-sex marriage bills. Please make your views known so you can credibly oppose changes that are most detrimental to the understanding of marriage as we know it.
As such it is vital that supporters of marriage do the following three things:
- Write a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Greens Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012. These are due by 2 April 2012. A submission can be as short or as long as you like. Here are some points you might like to include:
- Marriage is a unique relationship between one man and one woman.
- Marriage is the foundation of family, which in turn is the foundation of society.
Also consider including a personal touch, telling why marriage is important to you, and why it is important to hold onto this time-honoured institution.
Include your name and address and send your submission to the Senate Inquiry by 2 April 2012.
The Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012
Secretary, Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
PO Box 6100, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600
Tel 02 6277 3560 Fax 02 6277 5794
Given the urgency of the timeframe, if possible, Email your submission to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send a submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry by 20 April 2012.
Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012
House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs
Email your submission to SPLAmarriagebills@aph.gov.au
Include your name and address.
- Complete the House of Representatives survey on same-sex marriage at https://www.surveymk.com/s/spla-marriage
The online survey is simple and will only take a few minutes. It consists of two multiple-choice questions and two questions asking you to explain your position in less than 250 words. The survey closes on 20 April 2012.
The public debate on the definition of marriage has now reached a crucial phase and that is why I am seeking your support through responding to these parliamentary enquiries.
Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD
BISHOP OF WOLLONGONG
27 March 2012