“The Conversation” and impacts of same sex marriage

“Two pieces in the Australian online forum ‘The Conversation’ today make misleading statements about the possible impacts of the recognition of same-sex marriage in Australia, and warrant some response.

One article suggests that there is no doubt that churches will still be able to decline to solemnise same-sex marriages. The other is a ‘fact check’ on assertions about the mandatory nature of ‘safe schools‘ programs following such a change. In my view both pieces are likely to mislead. …”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Associate Professor Neil Foster responds to two articles published in The Conversation today. (The first article was also republished by the ABC.)

‘No need to speculate’

Freedom for Faith, have published this video featuring Professor Iain Benson, an expert in religious freedom.

He speaks about the Canadian experience.

Other videos are being posted on the Freedom for Faith website.

Humanity’s value and dignity

“Have you ever thought about one of the underlying assumptions behind almost every Hollywood thriller?

It is the value of human life.

Basically, because we value human life, the hero will bend over backwards to ensure that the nerve gas isn’t released into the city’s gas supply or stop the nuclear warhead from being detonated.

These movies would be pretty short if the hero simply did a cost-benefit analysis and concluded that it would be simply too expensive to save the city. No, the underlying assumption is that human life is precious. …”

— Moore College’s Dr Peter Orr reminds us why human life is valuable, when so many around us think otherwise. At SydneyAnglicans.net.

Tony Abbott ‘headbutted’ in Hobart

“Former prime minister Tony Abbott says he was shocked when a same-sex marriage campaigner assaulted him after requesting a handshake in a ‘sign of trust and peace’. …”

– Story and image from ABC News.

Law Society faces fresh row over same-sex marriage

“The Law Society is facing a fresh row over its support for same-sex marriage as members agitate for an extraordinary general meeting to censure the organisation for publicly backing a change in the law.

The society, which represents the state’s 30,000 solicitors, has come under fire over a joint statement it issued on August 19 with the NSW Bar Association and the state division of the Australian Medical Association supporting a change to the Marriage Act. …”

– Story from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Related: “Barristers, solicitors and doctors unite to support marriage equality laws.” – The Law Society of NSW, August 19, 2017.

“The President of the New South Wales Bar Association Arthur Moses SC, the President of The Law Society of NSW Pauline Wright and the President of the Australian Medical Association (NSW) Professor Brad Frankum have come together to express their support for same sex marriage legislation at the federal level. …”

Legalising assisted dying would be a failure of collective human memory and imagination

“Dying and death is not a new phenomenon: we have always become ill, suffered, were going to die and someone else could have killed us.

So why now, at the beginning of the 21st century, after prohibiting euthanasia for thousands of years and when we can do so much more to relieve suffering than in the past, do we suddenly think that legalising it is a good idea? I propose a major cause is a catastrophic failure of collective human memory and collective human imagination.

Let‘s look at the approaches taken on each side of the debate. …“

– An important article by Margaret Somerville, Professor of Bioethics in the School of Medicine at the University of Notre Dame Australia, in The Guardian.

Photo courtesy University of Notre Dame Australia. (h/t SydneyAnglicans.)

Cornerstone Presbyterian Church Legal Defence Fund

“A separate Church Legal Defence Fund bank account has been established by the Board of Management of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

The account is for receiving donations towards the legal costs of defending our Church against an anti-discrimination action brought against us in July this year. …”

– Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Hobart explains why they taken this step.


“Roger Franklin checks a submission by former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal boss Robin Banks … Worryingly, she says the religious view of morality must submit to ‘community standards’…” – Herald Sun.

Why we should vote ‘No’ in the survey on same sex ‘marriage’

“Australia is in the midst of a critical decision about one of the major building blocks of community life: marriage and the family.

A great deal of money (including public money) and effort is being expended on the case for a change to allow people of the same sex to marry. To many it seems that the case for change is unassailable, in some measure because its advocates have been able to link their proposal to treasured notions of ‘love’ and ‘equality’. …”

– Moore College Principal Dr Mark Thompson shares his reasons at Theological Theology.

National Press Club speech by Karina Okotel

The Sydney Morning Herald has published the speech given at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday by federal Liberal Party Vice President Karina Okotel.

John Howard criticises Malcolm Turnbull over handling of postal survey

“Former prime minister John Howard has criticised the Turnbull Government’s handling of the same-sex marriage survey, calling for the details of any bill to be released before the vote. …”

– Report from ABC News.

Free speech and vilification in the marriage law postal survey

“Australia is involved in a debate about whether same sex marriage should be introduced. The question is being put to the electors in the form of a voluntary postal survey, the question in which is simply: ‘Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry?’

The original intention of the current Government had been to put this question to the people of Australia in a compulsory plebiscite. This option being defeated twice in Parliament, the postal survey has been designed to be run without explicit authorising legislation. However, once it was decided that the survey would proceed, concerns were expressed that the debate might contain misleading and deceptive advertising, which would usually have been dealt with under the electoral laws (but since the survey was not being run under those laws, no such protections applied for the survey.) In addition, concerns were expressed about hateful and harmful speech on both side of the debate.

In response to these concerns, the Commonwealth Parliament today (in a rare example of swift bipartisan action) saw the introduction and enactment of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017(which has now received the Royal Assent, and become Act No 96 of 2017). The Act will come into operation on Thursday 14 September, 2017 (tomorrow, as I write.) …”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster has published some important information about legislation coming into effect tomorrow.

Anyone who plans to comment publicly on the plebiscite and related issues would do well to read it.

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