|Serious misjudgment: the Australian Christian Lobby advocates a relationships register for homosexual couples|
by Andrew Lansdown
Homosexuals won a major victory in May with the passage of the Civil Unions Bill 2006 through the parliament of the Australian Capital Territory. The new legislation gives official recognition to homosexual couples in the ACT, placing them on a level with married heterosexual couples.
What consequences will flow from the new legislation? In a “Civil Union Fact Sheet” posted on the web prior to the passage of the Bill, Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister of the ACT, explained: “In the ACT there will be no difference in legal effect between a civil union and a marriage made under the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961. That means that laws that presently distinguish between married spouses and other domestic partners will need to be amended to accord equal treatment to civil-union partners.”1 Thanks to the new legislation, a civil union of a homosexual couple is the legal equivalent of a marriage union of a heterosexual couple in the ACT.
Both the Australian Christian Lobby, headed by Jim Wallace, and Salt Shakers, headed by Peter Stokes, opposed the Civil Unions Bill. But regrettably these two fine pro-family Christian organisations clashed with one another over a surprising and disturbing strategy adopted by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).
Not content merely to oppose the Bill as wrong, ACL actually advocated the registration of same-sex relationships in its place. In a petition that it fielded to churches, ACL called upon “the Chief Minister to withdraw the Civil Unions Bill 2006 and instead introduce legislation that would allow for the registration of same sex and caring relationships, which does not mimic or diminish marriage, such as is in force in the state of Tasmania” (emphasis added).2
In a paper titled “Analysis of Civil Unions Act 2006”, ACL claims that the ACT Liberal Party Opposition “supported ACL’s call to provide legal entitlements for relationships (including non-sexual caring, same sex relationships etc) by establishing a registration system similar to that already implemented in Tasmania” (emphasis added).3 ACL also expresses frustration over the Chief Minister’s determination to push through his Civil Unions Bill: “There seemed to be no reason for Mr Stanhope to continue to push a hard line position on Civil Unions when he knew that a registration model would provide all the legal entitlements that the homosexual community was seeking” (emphasis added).* From these statements it is clear that ACL did not propose a registration model merely as a strategy to obstruct a model that it considered worse. It proposed same-sex registration because it in fact believes that homosexual couples are actually entitled to certain legal rights and privileges as couples. In calling for the establishment of a registration system, ACL was knowingly and determinedly advocating the provision of legal entitlements for homosexual relationships.
The position that ACL adopted was as unexpected as it was unfortunate and Salt Shakers rightly opposed it.* Instead of heeding the wise counsel of Salt Shakers, ACL continued to advocate the registration of homosexual relationships. Worse yet, ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace published an article in the May 2006 ACL National Newsletter both justifying the ACL position and criticising Salt Shakers. Then, after the passage of the Civil Unions Bill, ACL Chief of Staff, David Yates, told The Australian newspaper that, while the legislation went too far, “he was not opposed to giving gay couples legal recognition” (“Gay ban ‘cruel to children’”, 17 May 2006). And just for good measure, the ACL National Office repeated and developed Jim Wallace’s arguments in its “Analysis of Civil Unions Act 2006”, 3 which is dated 26 May.
Now that the ACT Civil Unions Bill has passed, ACL’s serious misjudgment could perhaps be overlooked, if only ACL would allow it. But ACL is not prepared to admit its mistake or even simply to let the matter drop. It has made it plain that it is determined to keep on arguing its misguided viewpoint, determined to win over more Christians to that viewpoint, determined even to push that viewpoint in the future elsewhere in Australia. Indeed, in the explanatory sheet that accompanied its petition, ACL stated: “Similar petitions will soon be raised in States where private members have muted the introduction of copycat legislation.”4
Given ACL’s declared intention to field “similar petitions” in other states if/when the issue of same-sex civil unions arises, and given ACL’s influence among Christians beyond the ACT, it is unfortunately necessary to expose and counter ACL’s actions and arguments in some detail. I do this on behalf of Life Ministries with real sadness, as prior to this issue we have had nothing but admiration for Jim and his organisation. Indeed, we even encouraged Christians to support ACL some years ago when it was seeking to establish a branch in Western Australia. It saddens us to think that those same people we encouraged to support ACL may have recently received by mail or email Jim’s article justifying ACL’s decision to advocate legal recognition of homosexual couples via a relationships register. And it disturbs us to think that should the issue arise in the near future in WA, Life Ministries and like-minded organisations and individuals might have to battle the Australian Christian Lobby along with the homosexual lobby.
Non-sexual caring relationships
The petition that ACL fielded called for “the registration of same sex and caring relationships” (emphasis added). Does the inclusion of non-sexual caring relationships in some way redeem the ACL proposal? On the first page of the May ACL National Newsletter, under the heading “Civil Unions Update”, ACL is at pains to emphasise the non-homosexual aspect of its registration proposal: “The petition called on the Assembly to withdraw the Civil Unions Bill and instead legislate for a relationships register that would cover homosexual couples and non-sexual caring relationships”.5 The word “and” is underlined for emphasis, indicating that ACL places some importance on the fact that its proposal included non-sexual caring relationships.
ACL’s “Analysis of Civil Unions Act 2006” reveals ACL’s reasoning: “A relationships register is different. It is not homosexual legislation as it also applies to heterosexual couples and to non-sexual caring relationships.” So, by adding non-sexual caring relationships into the mix, ACL feels (and wants us to feel) that it is not proposing “homosexual legislation”. It is tempting to think that ACL is simply being mischievous here, making an issue of a non-issue to conceal the real issue.
The registration of non-sexual caring relationships—such as two elderly sisters living together and caring for each other—is not in contention. There is nothing innately immoral about such relationships and so there is nothing innately objectionable about registering them. Besides, caring non-sexual couples are not agitating for official registration of their relationships—and if they were, Christians would not be opposing it. The whole focus of our concern is on the whole focus of the registration proposal—namely, the further legitimising of homosexuality by officially recognising and registering the relationships of homosexual “couples”. Registration is primarily aimed at giving legitimacy to homosexuals and their sexual practices. Indeed, if it were not for the homosexual issue, the registration issue would not even exist.
If ACL wants to call for the registration of “non-sexual caring relationships” without homosexual relationships added in, then I doubt that any Christians will object. But the primary purpose of a relationships register is to lend legitimacy to homosexual relationships. It is those relationships that we are concerned about—and side-issues such as non-sexual caring relationships do not and cannot dispel our concern.
Registration versus civil unions
ACL tries to downplay the legal and social impact of its proposal for a homosexual relationships register by emphasising caring relationships alongside homosexual relationships. Similarly, it tries to downplay the significance of a relationships register by declaring that it is less marriage-like than civil unions. It claims in its petition, for example, that the registration of same sex and caring relationships “does not mimic or diminish marriage” and cites the Tasmanian law to illustrate the point. Again, in its “Analysis of Civil Unions Act 2006”, it states: “ACL opposed the Civil Union[s] Bill because it mimics marriage but was willing to accept a relationships register which did not mimic marriage.”
ACL follows the same line in its “Christian Leaders Statement of Concern to ACT Chief Minister on the Civil Unions Bill 2006”,6 dated 11 May: “The undersigned Church leaders are strongly opposed to the ACT Civil Union[s] Bill 2006 and call on you to recognise same sex couples in a way that does not undermine, confuse, or mimic marriage.” As in this quoted sentence, the whole “Statement of Concern” starts with a noble expression of opposition to the Civil Unions Bill and slides into an ignoble call for the recognition of homosexual “couples” via a relationships register.
Despite some very good comments about the sanctity of marriage, the “Statement of Concern” is full of misguided and muddled thinking. For example, in a single paragraph consisting of three sentences, ACL makes three errors of judgment. ACL’s sentences are reproduced below in italics and are interspersed with my own comments:
ACL begins: There are other ways to address concerns for recognition of same sex couples that will not undermine or confuse the marriage relationship. But since when is it the concern of Christian leaders to find ways to give “recognition” to “same sex couples”? ACL continues: ACT law currently reflects this in the Domestic Relationship Act 1994, by legally recognising same sex couples as domestic partners. But if same-sex couples already enjoy legal recognition, what is the need for a same-sex register? ACL continues: Tasmanian law recognises a same sex register in a way that does not undermine or mimic marriage and yet by the homosexual activist Rodney Croome’s own admission, “gives same-sex couples virtually all spousal rights.” But how can ACL acknowledge with apparent approval that the Tasmanian law “gives same-sex couples virtually all spousal rights” and yet maintain that that law recognises same-sex couples in a way that “does not undermine or mimic marriage”? All this amounts to extraordinary illogic. We can only despair that ACL managed to get 36 ACT Christian leaders to endorse it.
ACL quotes the homosexual activist Rodney Croome as an authority. And it is right to do so, because he is an authority on this issue, having played a key role in the drafting and passing of the Tasmanian registration law. For his part, Croome is openly amused at the way ACL has compromised the Christian stance and misled fellow Christians with its support for same-sex relationships registration. He states:
Meanwhile, ACT civil unions continue to tear the religious right apart.
Melbourne-based Salt Shakers, and now the Festival of Light, are angry that the Australian Christian Lobby has responded to the ACT civil union scheme by supporting what the ACL believes is a more moderate Tasmanian-style relationship registry.
Salt Shakers and the FOL believe both schemes are equally wrong. …
The ACL’s response stresses that it is a pragmatic organisation out to “influence” governments, not establish “a theocracy”, and that its position has the support of many of the nation’s Pastors.
I can’t see this persuading the dissenters, but it’s a fascinating insight into how rapidly community attitudes are shifting towards the formal recognition of same-sex relationships.
That said, Salt Shakers and the Festival of Light are right.
There is no functional, nor any fundamental symbolic, difference between the new ACT civil union scheme and Tasmanian relationships registry. …
The ACT Liberals and the ACL are perpetrating a … con job on the religious right by pretending the Tasmanian model conforms more to conservative values.
Let’s look at the facts.
Both schemes give (virtually) the same rights as married couples.
Both schemes serve the purposes of certifying the existence of a relationship, immediately obtaining equal spousal rights, and officially affirming a couple’s love and commitment.
Under both schemes a relationship legally begins when the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages signs the right form.
Sure, the ACT law makes ceremonies compulsory and the Tasmanian scheme leaves them up to the people involved. Sure the Tasmanian law recognises non-conjugal relationships and the ACT law excludes them.
This doesn’t stop both schemes being acknowledged as civil unions or both as partnership registries by academics, overseas LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] and human rights organisations, and foreign governments. …7
In another article, Croome is quite insightful in his perception of how ACL has compromised and where its compromise will take it. He states:
And it’s groups like the ACL which remind us how quickly this evolution can occur.
Three years ago Jim Wallis [sic] rushed to Hobart and attempted without success to convince the Tasmanian Legislative Council to block the very reform he now champions.
A Tasmanian relationship registry would “create a parallel legal universe”, he said then.
It would result in tangles of litigation and worst of all legitimise same-sex relationships.
It’s not hard to picture Wallis [sic] and his friends in another three years when marriage equality has become a political possibility.
“Remember the [ACT] Stanhope Bill?”, they’ll reminisce.
“Yeah, it was great, so much better than real gay marriage.”
“Do you think the politicians would swallow it as a more moderate option?”
“Let’s give it a try.”8
In an article co-authored by Wayne Morgan and published in The Canberra Times the day before the passage of the Civil Unions Bill, Croome states:
Conservatives inside and outside the Legislative Assembly have been championing the Tasmanian option ever since Jon Stanhope unveiled his civil union scheme in March. …
The Australian Christian Lobby has declared its preference for the Tasmanian model because it “recognises same-sex relationships without equating them to marriage”.
This is correct, as far as it goes.
The Tasmanian scheme doesn’t provide for an official ceremony. You send your papers in, receive a certificate back, and it’s up to you if and how you celebrate. …
Indeed under the [Tasmanian] Act which established the registry, traditional marriage-related categories of relationships were abolished.
There are no longer such thing[s] as marriages, husbands, wives, or a [sic] de facto partners in Tasmanian law.
There are the more up-to-date, inclusive and virtually equal categories of significant relationships (between same or opposite sex partners) and caring relationships (such as those already mentioned).
If the Tasmanian scheme is not like marriage, it’s because it does away with the idea, and the idealisation, of marriage altogether.
This radically new approach to how we legislate for human relationships is why the Tasmanian scheme has been lauded as globally ground-breaking.
It’s also why supporters of the Tasmanian law are amused that it has suddenly become the darling of those social conservatives who, only three years ago, were roundly condemning it.9
In a press release issued on 29 March by the Tasmanian Gay and Legal Rights Group, Wayne Morgan is quoted as saying: “Both laws give virtually the same rights and entitlements. In this respect they are the same law under different names”.10 Morgan speaks with some authority: for in addition to being a senior lecturer in law at the Australian National University, he was a consultant to both the Tasmanian and the ACT governments concerning the drafting of their respective laws to recognise same-sex couples.
ACL is sadly mistaken in its belief that registration of same-sex relationships is less-serious and less marriage-like than same-sex civil unions. But even if it could be established that registration is less significant than civil unions, it still would not justify ACL’s stance. A relationship based on two men having sex together or two women having sex together is not a relationship that merits recognition or support. The relationship itself is unnatural and immoral and ought not to be sanctioned, protected or encouraged in any way by anyone, let alone by a government through legislation. As for the individuals in such a relationship, they currently enjoy all the rights and privileges of any other individual citizen, and properly so. They do not need to be registered and esteemed as a “couple” in order to access those rights. Their claim to “couple” status on the basis of their sexual practice is nonsense, and their demand for social respect and legal privilege on the basis of such an imagined status is outrageous.
Richard Egan of the Festival of Light has correctly stated that “The real significance of each Bill is that each would enhance the legal and symbolic status of same sex relationships.”11 And it is that real significance that has motivated both Salt Shakers and Festival of Light to oppose registration every bit as much as civil unions. For both organisations rightly understand that it is not the responsibility of Christians to call for legislation that will enhance the status of homosexual relationships in the community at large.
Jim Wallace’s arguments
Smarting from Salt Shakers’ criticism, Jim Wallace defended ACL’s position in the May issue of the ACL National Newsletter. The first half of his article, “Influencing government”, is as follows:
My pastor preached this week on the importance of Jesus’ injunction to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and with all your mind” and then also “to love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matt 22: 37–38). It can be too easy to sit in judgement of our neighbour, particularly when one obvious aspect of their life is not godly.
Some time ago I met a Christian whose son was homosexual. Given his own faith and Christian leadership responsibilities, it was obviously a source of much hurt and some embarrassment to him. Nonetheless he resolved to demonstrate his love to his son without qualification, while making it plain that he did not support the sin.
I could not help but think as I heard this man’s story that it was exactly how I would expect God would want him to act. He didn’t cast the son out, cut off his access to the family or financially disadvantage him, but instead treated him with love and respect. I have no doubt that as God continues to reveal the sin in the son’s life, that the proximity and unqualified love of his father and family will be a great witness to him of Christ’s love for him.
Salt Shakers, a Melbourne based Christian ethics group, has heavily criticised ACL’s position on the ACT Civil Unions Bill because ACL is prepared to accept a relationships register ensuring legal rights for caring relationships, including homosexual ones.
Our main motivation is that of the father in the story above. If we love our neighbour, we do not believe we should be actively seeking to deny him justice in the flow of legal rights that are implicit given the legal status of homosexuality. The same applies to heterosexual de facto relationships: although not a biblical teaching we still support their legal entitlements. …5
Jim affirms that “ACL is prepared to accept a relationships register ensuring legal rights for caring relationships, including homosexual ones.” But note his circumspect wording. Note, firstly, how he tacks on “including homosexual ones” to “caring relationships”, implying that homosexual relationships are just another category of caring relationships and are included in the mix almost as an afterthought. Secondly, note Jim’s expression that ACL was prepared to accept a relationships register. This wording implies that ACL was merely a passive (and maybe even a reluctant) player in whole affair. Yet according to its own account of events in “Analysis of Civil Unions Act 2006”, ACL arranged the special pastors’ briefing at which it was decided to send the “Christian Leaders Statement of Concern” to the Chief Minister urging the adoption of the registry model in place of the civil unions model. ACL organised the petition that likewise called on the ACT Legislative Assembly to embrace the registry model. ACL even guided the Opposition to adopt the registry model: “The Liberal Party Opposition … supported ACL’s call to provide legal entitlements for relationships … by establishing a registration system” (emphasis added). In short, ACL did much more than passively accept a same-sex relationships register: it actively advocated such a register.
Jim begins his justification of ACL’s position with an analogy of a father who continued to love his homosexual son without supporting his son’s sin. ACL, Jim would have us believe, is like that wise, compassionate father. But this illustration is entirely unhelpful for two reasons. To begin with, it does not support Jim’s stance in this instance. He said (and we only have his report to go on) that the father “resolved to demonstrate his love to his son without qualification, while making it plain that he did not support the sin.” But how does Jim’s proposal of a same-sex relationships register demonstrate a disapproval of the sin? It may demonstrate (albeit in a confused way) “love” for homosexuals, but it certainly does not make it plain that Jim/ACL is opposed to their sin. If the father of the anecdote had told his son, “I want to give some legitimacy and esteem to you and your lover by formally recognising and endorsing your homosexual union in some way”—or if he had said, “Son, I feel bad about the way I have honoured your sister’s marriage to her husband but have failed to honour your relationship with your lover, so I have decided to do such-and-such for you”—or if he had said, “Son, I want to do something for you and your lover which will give you as a couple ‘virtually all spousalrights’”—if the father had said anything of this sort, then he would be a legitimate candidate for Jim to use. But (on the basis of what Jim has said) we have no reason to believe that the father did anything of the sort. It would seem that Jim has done this father an injustice by naming him in support of his cause. It is certain that he has done his readers an injustice by claiming the father’s position supports and illustrates his own.
Another problem with Jim’s father illustration is that it perpetrates an injustice against Salt Shakers. By implication, Salt Shakers (and hence Peter Stokes) lacks the wisdom and the compassion that Jim/ACL has. “Our main motivation is that of the father in the story above,” Jim says—as if that is not also the motivation of Salt Shakers—as if ACL alone understands and pursues the principle of hating the sin but loving the sinner!
Jim implies his/ACL’s superiority to Salt Shakers at several other points in his article. For example:
In his opening paragraph he states: “It can be too easy to sit in judgement of our neighbour, particularly when one obvious aspect of their life is not godly.” The unmistakable implication is that not only has ACL wisely avoided this error but also that Salt Shakers has foolishly fallen into it. But the issue of opposing both civil unions and registration of same-sex relationships has nothing to do with piously sitting in judgment of our neighbour! Our concern in this matter is not primarily a concern with the homosexual who discretely goes about the business of indulging his sexual lusts with other consenting adults. Our concern is with homosexuals (and their sympathisers) who boast that homosexual sex is good and want to compel, by legislative means, the wider community to accept and approve of it. When a homosexual begins to brag about his sin, when he begins to demand that we should approve of his sin, when he begins to claim the right to teach our children that his sin is good, when he begins to use political parties and parliaments to force us and our loved ones and our neighbours to approve of his sin—then our opposition to him is not some pharisaic “sitting in judgment of our neighbour”. Rather, it is a godly and necessary defence. And this is the situation we are facing with homosexuals who want marriage or (in the absence of marriage) civil unions or (in the absence of civil unions) registration of relationships: they have launched an attack on their neighbours, an attack aimed at robbing their neighbours of the right to disapprove of homosexual acts, lifestyles and relationships. The battle over legally endorsed civil unions or registers for homosexual “couples” has nothing to do with Christians sitting in judgment of their homosexual neighbours but everything to do with Christians defending themselves and other hapless members of the community from homosexual ideologues and bullies.
Salt Shakers and like organisations face ongoing accusations (from liberal Christians and muddled Christians, from the secular media and the left intelligentsia) that they are judgmental and lacking in compassion. These accusations are as hurtful as they are false. They are nasty, judgmental accusations that wound godly people and damage their reputations and undercut their valiant efforts to stand up for what is good and noble and right. It is shameful that Jim of all people should mimic them. He has made himself and ACL look very moderate and sensible and compassionate—but all at Salt Shaker’s expense.
And not content with implying that Salt Shakers is judgmental and unloving, Jim later in the article seems to imply that they are theocrats! He states, “Important too in this issue is what role we, as a Christian community, envisage for Christian advocacy. The ACL vision statement says very deliberately that our aim is to see Christian principles and ethics influencing the way we are governed. Our role, and we believe that of the Church, is not to seek to establish a Christian government or a theocracy, but rather to influence governments for Christian values” (original emphasis). Now, let us leave aside the important question of whether Jim’s advocacy of a same-sex relationships register accords with his aim “to see Christian principles and ethics influencing the way we are governed.” Let us also leave aside the additional question of exactly how his advocacy of a same-sex register accords with his stated “role” to “influence governments for Christian values.” Let us focus instead on his concern that we Christians should not seek to set up a theocracy. “Our role … is not to seek to establish a Christian government or a theocracy,” Jim states. So? How does this relate to the issue of supporting or opposing the registration of same-sex couples? Is Jim implying that Salt Shakers has been using the ACT legislative issue as a means of establishing a theocracy? Or is he implying that Salt Shakers has adopted its position on the basis of some supposed theocratic beliefs? If so—to either of these last two questions—if so, upon what basis does he imply this? And if not, why is he bringing up the matter of theocracies at all? This is just another non-issue to confuse the issue. The issue is not about influencing governments as opposed to setting up theocracies, but about what sort of influence we wish to exert on governments and what sort of influence we want to accept from governments. Salt Shakers, I suggest, does not disagree with Jim’s approach of trying to influence governments according to Christian values, nor does it disagree with his rejection of theocracy. Rather, it disagrees with the ACL strategy of fielding a petition which calls upon the Chief Minister of the ACT to set up a register for homosexual unions. It considers—as do I and Life Ministries—that such a strategy plays into the hands of homosexuals and undermines attempts to influence governments according to Christian values and thus represents a blunder on ACL’s part.
There is only one occasion where Jim actually argues his case, and unfortunately this argument is unsound. He argues that to deny homosexuals the “right” to register their union (and thereby gain all manner of benefits and respectability) would be to deny them justice. He states: “If we love our neighbour, we do not believe we should be actively seeking to deny him justice in the flow of legal rights that are implicit given the legal status of homosexuality. … although not a biblical teaching we still support their legal entitlements.”
Jim’s reasoning seems to be that because current laws relating to homosexuality confer certain rights on homosexuals, opposition to either the implementation of those laws or the logical extension of those laws amounts to a denial of justice to homosexuals. A little reflection shows this reasoning to be false.
Implicit and explicit in anti-discrimination legislation around the nation is the idea that homosexual sex is a perfectly acceptable sexual option. Implicit in these laws is the idea that homosexual relationships ought to be valued and supported every bit as much as heterosexual relationships. Thinking Christians opposed the introduction of these laws because they understood that (a) no human law has a right to declare evil good, (b) it is false to equate homosexual relationships with heterosexual relationships because they are not biologically or spiritually equivalent and (c) the anti-discrimination changes were a steppingstone to the sorts of changes the ACT has just enacted and ACL is now advocating. In other words, thinking Christians opposed pro-homosexual anti-discrimination legislation because the basis of the legislation is misconceived and the outworking of it is unjust. But now that the laws are in place, according to Jim’s logic, Christians should not only accept all their preconceptions and implications, but should also press them to the nth degree! This is nonsense of the highest order. And it is nonsense that makes a mockery even of Jim’s own position. Jim is advocating a same-sex relationships register as an alternative to same-sex civil unions on the grounds that the former “does not mimic or diminish marriage”. (The fact that he is seriously mistaken on this is beside the point.) But in trying to prevent homosexuals from having access to marriage, isn’t Jim, by his own logic, denying them “justice in the flow of legal rights that are implicit given the legal status of homosexuality”?
And even if Jim can find some way to avoid the illogic of his position prior to the passage of the ACT Civil Unions Bill 2006, he certainly cannot avoid it now that the Bill has been passed. For the plain intention of the Bill is to eradicate any legal or social difference between heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Now that homosexual unions are legally recognised in the ACT, is Jim going to argue that ACT Christians must support “the flow of legal rights that are implicit given the legal status” of those union? Is he going to argue that as the clear intent of the law is to give marriage to homosexuals in all but name, Christians must now support—and even advocate—marriage for homosexuals? It is no good for Jim to protest, “But I didn’t agree with the civil unions legislation!” Other Christians did not and do not agree with the pro-homosexual legislation that paved the way for the current ACT legislation, and Jim has already dismissed their disagreement as irrelevant and claimed that they ought now to fall in line with the law and push it to its logical conclusion or else be guilty of denying homosexuals justice.
I suggest that Jim would be horrified if his logic on this issue were applied to other issues. Consider how it would work out on the issue of abortion, for example. In Western Australia, abortion on demand (albeit with some qualifications in the latter stages of pregnancy) is enshrined in law. Mindful, then, that WA women have the legal right to kill their unborn children, are WA Christians denying women justice by continuing to oppose the practice of abortion? After all, in doing this we are acting against “the flow of legal rights that are implicit given the legal status” of abortion. And how far should we go to “support” women in “their legal entitlements” concerning abortion? Should we join with those who are calling for abortion clinics in country towns on the grounds that it is unjust to deny all women equal access to abortion? Should we drop our opposition to RU486 and instead advocate the free distribution of this abortion drug on the grounds that it will give women greater opportunity to enjoy their legal entitlements? Jim would never use such logic on the issue of abortion, so why is he using it on the issue of homosexuality?
Unfortunately, about the only pertinent thing Jim says in his article is that his position is “not a biblical teaching”. For certainly, the Bible never encourages us to advocate rights where none exist, nor does it encourage us to esteem those who boast of their sin and try to force others to approve of it.
ACL has done many fine things in support of family/Christian values in the few years it has been operating. It would be a tragedy if it persists in this course of supporting homosexual rights (albeit rights short of marriage) and opposing companion organisations like Salt Shakers. Hopefully, it will desist and become a help instead of a hindrance in the ongoing battle to preserve Christian and family values against the attacks of homosexual activists and their allies. Let us pray that this will happen.
* ACL seems quite unable to grasp the fundamental issue. The reason the Chief Minister took a hard line, I suggest, is because he was determined to win a symbolic victory for homosexuals. He was concerned to further their desire to gain unqualified acceptance of their sexual behaviour. He was no doubt well aware that there are very few practical benefits that will flow to homosexuals from his Civil Unions Bill because most of the practical benefits have already been bestowed by other legislation. He was no doubt also well aware that very few homosexuals will make use of his Civil Unions law because few homosexual relationships are monogamous in the short term, let alone the long term. He pushed a hard line because his primary aim was to elevate the status of homosexual relationships.
1. “Civil Union Fact Sheet” – www.chiefminister.act.gov.au/media.asp?media=927&id=927§ion=24&title=Jon%20Stanhope,%20MLA
2. ACL’s petition – http://www.acl.org.au/pdfs/load_pdf_public.pdf?pdf_id=536&from=SEARCH
3. ACL’s “Analysis of Civil Unions Act 2006” – acl.org.au/pdfs/load_pdf_public.pdf?pdf_id=584&from=NATIONAL
4. ACL’s explanatory sheet, “A Petition to the ACT Legislative Assembly Concerning the Civil Unions Bill 2006”, accompanying petition – WWW.acl.org.au/pdfs/load_pdf_public.pdf?pdf_id=536&from=SEARCH
5. ACL National Newsletter, May 2006 – www.acl.org.au/pdfs/load_pdf_public.pdf?pdf_id=559&from=national
6. ACL’s “Christian Leaders Statement of Concern to ACT Chief Minister on the Civil Unions Bill 2006” – www.acl.org.au/pdfs/load_pdf_public.pdf?pdf_id=562&from=
7. “Getting snarly”, 12 May 2006, on Rodney Croome’s website – www.rodneycroome.id.au/weblog?id=10
8. “A more moderate option”, 10 May 2006, on Rodney Croome’s website – www.rodneycroome.id.au/weblog?id=10
9. “Relationships debate about more than marriage”, The Canberra Times 10 May 2006 – a copy of this article can be found on Rodney Croome’s website – www.rodneycroome.id.au/other_more?id=2115_0_2_0_M13
10. “A.C.T Gov’t slated over misleading civil union claims”, a media release issued by the TGLRG on 29 March 2006 – tglrg.org/more/182_0_1_0_M/
11. Festival of Light, “Help keep marriage special in ACT!”, 9 May 2006