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The Commonwealth Government’s exposure draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill

Submission 122

ANGLICAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA

CHRIST CHURCH SOUTH YARRA
Worship, Ministry, Mission

Committee  Secretary             The  Revd  Dr  Richard  Treloar  
Select  Committee  on  the  Exposure  Draft    of  the            Vicar,  Christ  Church  South  Yarra  
     Marriage  Amendment  (Same  Sex  Marriage)  Bill                President,  Christ  Church  Grammar  School  
Department  of  the  Senate                Honorary  Research  Associate,  
PO  Box  6100                          The  University  of  Divinity  
Canberra  ACT  2600  
 
     
12  January  2017  
                 
Dear  Sir/Madam,  
 
I  am  an  Anglican  Priest  of  27  years  in  Holy  Orders,  currently  serving  in  the  Diocese  of  Melbourne  with  the  
License  of  His  Grace  the  Archbishop  and  Primate,  The  Most  Revd  Dr  Philip  Freier.  
 
I  am  the  Vicar  of  a  busy  inner-­‐city  Parish,  which  has  an  independent  Anglican  co-­‐educational  Primary  School  
at  the  heart  of  its  ministry  and  mission.  
 
I  Chair  the  Board  of  Christ  Church  Grammar  School,  and  have  recently  served  on  the  Boards  of  Melbourne  
Grammar  School  and  The  Brotherhood  of  St  Laurence.    I  am  an  appointed  member  of  the  Liturgy  
Commission  of  the  General  Synod  of  the  Anglican  Church  of  Australia,  and  (before  being  called  to  Christ  
Church  ten  years  ago)  was  for  nine  years  Stewart  Lecturer  in  Theology  at  Trinity  College  Theological  School,  
which  is  now  a  College  of  the  University  of  Divinity,  of  which  I  am  an  Honorary  Research  Associate.  
 
Among  over  40  academic  publications  and  conference  papers,  I  have  contributed  chapters  in  three  edited  
volumes  addressing  the  Scriptures  and  human  sexuality,  and  an  article  in  an  international  peer  reviewed  
journal  on  the  subject,  as  well  as  presenting  a  paper  at  the  Society  of  Biblical  Literature  in  Philadelphia,  
USA,  on  the  same  topic  (see  select  reference  list  at  the  end  of  this  submission).  
 
As  the  Vicar  of  a  Parish  which  has  many  GLBTIQ  people  who  worship  regularly  among  the  700  people  who  
attend  services  (on  average)  each  week,  the  issue  of  ‘marriage  equality’  has  great  pastoral,  professional,  
and  personal  relevance.  
 
I  was  surprised  to  receive  a  standing  ovation  at  the  end  of  a  sermon  I  preached  on  the  subject  last  August  –  
not  a  gesture  to  which  Anglicans  are  typically  given!  
 
Over  the  years  I  have  worked  with  countless  gay  and  lesbian  clergy  and  lay  people,  who  have  suffered  on  
account  of  the  Church’s  active  discrimination  (exempt,  of  course,  from  any  legal  recourse),  and  from  the  
more  ‘passive’  cultural  inequality  that  persists  with  respect  to  full  recognition  of  their  relationship  status.  
 
Of  the  25  marriages  we  perform  annually  at  Christ  Church  (one  every  fortnight  on  average),  well  over  50%  
involve  at  least  one  divorced  person  –  something  that  would  have  been  impossible  and  unthinkable  within  
living  memory.  
 
 
The Commonwealth Government’s exposure draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill
Submission 122

ANGLICAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA

CHRIST CHURCH SOUTH YARRA
Worship, Ministry, Mission
 
 
 
As  an  Authorised  Marriage  Celebrant,  auspiced  by  my  ordaining  Church,  I  am  not  required  to  ‘remarry’  
divorced  persons;  it  is  a  matter  of  conscience.  
 
Were  the  law  of  the  land  to  change  such  that  ‘same  sex  marriage’  became  permissible,  I  would  not  be  
eligible  to  officiate  at  such  marriages  as  a  Registered  Minister  of  Religion  unless  my  ordaining  Church  
empowered  me  to  do  so  and  provided  a  liturgy  for  that  purpose,  reflecting  changes  to  the  Marriage  Act.  
 
Even  were  that  to  happen  –  as  with  persons  who  have  been  divorced  –  I  would  free  to  marry,  or  not  to  
marry,  same  sex  couples.    It  would  be  a  matter  of  individual  conscience.  
 
That  said,  I  would  expect  the  number  of  weddings  at  Christ  Church  in  the  year  following  any  such  legislative  
and  ecclesial  amendments  to  double,  and  I  would  rejoice  in  the  privilege  of  solemnising  the  marriages  of  
dozens  of  same-­‐sex  couples  whose  relationships  we  have  celebrated  in  other  ways  over  the  last  decade.  
 
There  would  be  no  coercion  for  me  to  officiate  at,  or  for  parishioners  to  attend,  such  ceremonies.    Any  
suggestion  to  that  effect  demonstrates  a  complete  lack  of  understanding  of  the  Anglican  ethos,  and  of  
religious  freedoms  in  Australia  more  generally.  
 
In  this  regard  I  must  aver  to  the  misleading  campaigning  of  bodies  such  as  the  ‘Australian  Christian  Lobby’,  
which  –  of  course  –  represents  a  very  small  fraction  of  Australian  Christians  (the  vast  majority  of  whom  are  
Roman  Catholic,  Anglican,  or  Orthodox),  who  preach  a  doctrine  of  fear  as  to  what  might  happen  were  the  
law  to  provide  for  ‘gay  marriage’.  
 
The  simple  and  obvious  reality  is  that  Churches,  and  individual  ministers  within  those  Churches,  will  be  free  
to  respond  according  to  their  formularies  and  doctrines,  and  consciences,  respectively.  
 
At  our  Parish  School,  comprising  over  400  children  and  their  families,  we  have  –  naturally  –  several  same-­‐
sex  sets  of  parents,  and  gay  or  lesbian  staff  members.    My  four-­‐year-­‐old  son’s  best  friend  –  in  an  explicitly  
Anglican  School  –  has  two  dads.    This  is  normal  for  him,  as  for  them.      
 
Our  faith-­‐community  would  rejoice  in  the  capacity  to  acknowledge  these  relationships  for  what  they  are.      
 
I  recommend  that  a  law  which  recognises  marriage  irrespective  of  gender  retain  and  not  exceed  the  powers  
of  existing  legislation  with  respect  to  the  freedom  of  Registered  Ministers  of  Religion  to  act  in  accordance  
with  the  authority  of  their  ordaining  and  licensing  bodies,  which  includes  the  dictates  of  the  individual  
conscience  of  the  minister  concerned.  
 
Sincerely  and  with  best  wishes,  
The Commonwealth Government’s exposure draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill
Submission 122

ANGLICAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA

CHRIST CHURCH SOUTH YARRA
Worship, Ministry, Mission
 
 
 
Relevant  Publications  and  Conference  Papers  
 
“‘Come  Out  and  Stay  Out’:  Homosexuality,  Hermeneutics,  and  Schism  in  Anglicanism.”    Society  of  Biblical  
Literature  Annual  Congress,  Marriott  Hotel  Philadelphia,  USA  (19  November  2005).  
 
 
‘“How  Do  You  Read?”:  The  Anglican  Church  of  Australia  As  A  Hermeneutical  Community.’  Pages  47-­‐79  in  
‘Wonderful  and  Confessedly  Strange:  Australian  Essays  in  Anglican  Ecclesiology.    Edited  by  Bruce  Kaye.  Adelaide:  
ATF  Press,  2006.    
 
 
“‘Come  Out  and  Stay  Out!’:  Hermeneutics,  Homosexuality,  and  Schism  in  Anglicanism.”  The  Anglican  Theological  
Review  90.1  (Winter  2008):  47-­‐63.  
 
 
‘On  “not  putting  new  wine  into  old  wineskins”,  or  “taking  the  Bible  fully  seriously”:  An  Anglican  Reading  of  
Leviticus  18:22  and  20:13.’  Pages  13-­‐30  in  Five  Uneasy  Pieces:  Essays  on  Scripture  and  Sexuality.  Adelaide:  ATF  
Press,  2011.    
 
 
‘Esther’s  “Coming  Out”  as  Costly  Redemption:  Living  Through  and  Beyond  the  Violence  of  “Othering”.’  
Pages  53-­‐69  in  Pieces  of  Ease  and  Grace.  Edited  by  Alan  H  Cadwallader.  Adelaide:  ATF  Press  (Theology),  
2013.