Opinion

Same sex marriage: Is Yes vote a blank cheque?

SUPPORTERS of same-sex marriage think the upcoming postal plebiscite is a no-brainer. Just vote yes and be done with it.

But for a large chunk of conservative Australia, particularly in regional areas, this is not a simple yes or no question.

The reason is because there is no real guarantee that this national vote is just about marriage equality, despite what the politicians might promise.

And there's the rub for conservatives, Christians, and those who support 'traditional' family values.

The No camp has real fears this will just be the first step in a process that will ultimately undermine not just religious freedoms, but freedoms of those who want to teach their children traditional views around family, sexuality and marriage.

What has clouded the debate, of course, is some of the revelations we have seen about the Safe Schools program.

There are parents who have genuine concerns about what their students are being taught under such initiatives.

The Australian Christian Lobby, in a pamphlet being distributed to homes, makes the following claims.

"If the law is changed to include gay marriage, schools will be obliged to teach gay and lesbian sexual activity in the classroom. 

"Radical programs like Safe Schools already teach kids about various forms of sexual activity and encourages sexual experimentation from an early age.

"Once gay marriage is legalised, programs like this will become widespread and even compulsory as has happened overseas." 

Today, the LNP has vowed to remove the Safe Schools program in Queensland, saying: ""Our schools are places for learning and nurturing, they are not places for social engineering or politicking."

Instead, it will develop anti-bullying programs.

The challenge of course is to create programs that address the very real issues facing gay students.

No one wants to see them bullied or vilified, in any environment.

And of course, Yes campaigners will argue Safe Schools has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

However, there is a valid argument, as expressed in an opinion piece in The Australian today, that if Australians knew exactly what they were voting for - beyond a simple Yes or No equation - many would certainly feel more comfortable.

Surely we have a right to see the proposed bill.

If anything, it would probably aid the Yes vote.

A bill by Dean Smith, coming from the Coalition backbench, certainly provides for protection for religious freedoms.

Will you be voting yes or no in the national poll?

View Results

Questions such legislation must address include:

Will churches and ministers of religion have a right not to marry same-sex couples if they do not agree with such marriages?

Will private and religious schools have a right to continue to teach their own values on such issues?

Will there be a guarantee that the Marriage Act will not be further altered to cater for other types of marriage?

Will non-religious marriage celebrants, who do not agree with same-sex marriage, be allowed to abstain from such ceremonies?

Will the Sex Discrimination Act be amended to ensure religious exemptions are maintained and protected?

While most polls show a majority of Australians support same-sex marriage, many are unlikely to be happy about signing a blank cheque for politicians to fill out later.

Topics:  editors picks freedom of religion marriage equality opinion religion same sex marriage

News Corp Australia

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