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Poll finds a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage

Poll finds a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage.

Christian leaders join campaign for equality.

A national opinion poll has found a majority of Australian Christians believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, while a number mainstream Christian ministers have spoken out in favour of the reform.

A Galaxy research poll released today, ahead of a rally against same-sex marriage in Canberra convened by religious groups including the Australian Christian Lobby, found 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.

“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”, Mr McPherson said.

“Clearly, most Australian Christians believe same-sex marriage is consistent with Christian values like justice, love, compassion and fidelity, not opposed to these values.”

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 on Friday afternoon.

Christian leaders who have given their support to the campaign come from Uniting, Anglican and Baptist churches across Australia, and include Sydney minister and 2GB radio host, Rev Bill Crews.

In his endorsement of Christians 4 Equality, Rev Crews pointed out the distinction between religious and civil marriages.

“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.”

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.”

Mr McPherson said he is pleased more Australian Christians who support marriage equality are speaking out.

“We want politicians to understand that marriage equality is not about ‘God v the gays’, but about principles like justice and inclusion that have support across many faith communities.”

“We urge all Christians who support marriage equality to email their local MP.”

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”.

The Christian clergy endorsing Christians 4 Equality join the Unitarians, Quakers and the Metropolitan Community Church in publicly supporting same-sex marriage in Australia.

The Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia put their support for same-sex marriage on the record in June.

Details of the Galaxy poll can be found here:
http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/a-majority-of-christians-support-marriage-equality/

The Christians 4 Equality webform and a list of clergy endorsing it, can be found here:
www.christians4equality.com.au

Details of today’s National Marriage Day events can be found here: http://australianchristianlobby.org.au/2011/07/national-marriage-day-rally/

A selection of statements from religious leaders who endorse the Christians 4 Equality campaign can be found below.

For more information contact Malcolm McPherson on 0409 321 233 or Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.

“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.”
Rev Bill Crews (Uniting Church Minister, Sydney)

“How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done? Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.”
Rev Dr Rowland Croucher (John Mark Ministries, Victoria)

“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.”
Rev Matt Glover (Baptist Minister, Melbourne)

Access to marriage, a public expression of commitment and love, is an essential part of being human and an inalienable right. As Christians we need to support those who are excluded and challenge those who through exclusion dehumanise and discriminate. I urge you to join the campaign to welcome our GLBT friends to express their love and commitment to each other through this special rite.”
Rev Roger Munson (Uniting Church Minister, Canberra)

“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’.”
Fr Dave Smith, (Anglican parish priest, Sydney)