By Brody Levesque | SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA — A national opinion poll conducted by the Galaxy research group released Monday, ahead of a rally against same-sex marriage in the Australian capital city Canberra, finds a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage.
The results showed that 53% of Australians who identify as Christians support same-sex marriage, while 41% oppose. 67% of non-Christians support it.
Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson, Malcolm McPherson, himself a Christian, said the poll shows church leaders and Christian lobbyists who oppose same-sex marriage are not representative of the feelings of most Australians on the subject of same-sex marriage as evidenced by the poll’s results.
The Galaxy poll found overall support for allowing same-sex marriage to 60%, which is unchanged from an identical poll conducted by Galaxy in October last year (the result of the October poll was 62%, which is within the margin of error of +/- 2%).
However, there has been a marked shift in how strongly views on the issue are held. Since October last year 5% of supporters of equality have shifted from “agree” to “strongly agree”, with a similar shift among opponents of reform from “strongly disagree” to “disagree”.
Religious leaders who have given their support to the campaign for marriage equality come from Uniting, Anglican and Baptist churches across Australia, and include Sydney minister and 2GB radio host, Reverend Bill Crews who said in an interview:
Today in Australia we all live in a secular non discriminatory society. Churches and other spiritual institutions exist within this society. It seems to me that in a secular and non-discriminatory society gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple. If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimises all marriages.
A Melbourne Baptist pastor, Matt Glover, said allowing same-sex marriages will benefit marriage as an institution:
When a couple want to be part of the institution of marriage, when they fully accept the same rights and responsibilities of marriage and treat marriage with the respect it deserves, why should they NOT get married? As a Christian minister, I believe that marriage is under threat from many angles, but also believe that recognizing same-sex unions will help return marriage to its rightful place in society.
An Anglican parish priest in Sydney, Rector David Smith was blunt in his assessment:
From a Christian point of view, marriage is an institution designed to serve two social needs:
1) contribute broadly to social stability
2)provide a stable environment for the nurturing of children.
If this is the case then the only questions Christians need to concern themselves with when it comes to the issue of gay marriage are these two:
1) Would gay marriage lead to greater social stability?
2) Would a married gay partnership be likely to provide a more secure environment for the nurturing of the children of a gay couple than an unmarried one?
I think the answer to both these questions has to be ‘yes’.
Buoyed by the poll results, Australian Marriage Equality has launched a Christians 4 Equality letter-writing campaign which has the endorsement of a wide range of Christian leaders and has already seen almost 10,000 letters sent to MPs from Australian Christians since the site went live last Friday afternoon.
The PinkNews UK reported that during a rally held yesterday in Canberra, the so-called ‘National Day for Marriage’ rally, an American anti-gay activist told the audience during her speech that gay marriage would lead to paedophiles marrying children. Rebecca Hagelin, a columnist for the right wing tabloid World Net Daily, also added that there is “no greater evil” than gay marriage supporters and that Christians are in a “war for the future of the human race”.
Australian Marriage Equality’s McPherson responded telling the PinkNews:
Christian groups that oppose marriage equality like the Australian Christian Lobby are entitled to their view, but they do not represent the majority of Australian Christians.
Clearly, most Australian Christians believe same-sex marriage is consistent with Christian values like justice, love, compassion and fidelity, not opposed to these values.