THE Australian Primate, Dr Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, has advised Christians to vote “according to conscience” in the projected national plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
In a move welcomed by progressive Anglican campaigners, Dr Freier said that it was “right and proper” that “individual Anglicans have adopted a variety of positions taken in good conscience based on their Christian understanding of the principles and issues”. Should the vote be in favour of same-sex marriage, as opinion polls had suggested, “the Church must accept that this is now part of the landscape,” he said.
Conservatives, on the other hand, have welcomed his comment that he did not believe that the Anglican Church of Australia was “likely to revise its doctrine of marriage”. The Church’s doctrine, he said, was that “marriage is between a man and a woman, under God, forsaking all others until death parts them.”
Dr Freier has also called for a “positive” debate about the question of same-sex marriage in the lead-up to the plebiscite, with “kindness in our speech towards those with whom we disagree”.
Legislation for the plebiscite, the policy of the Federal Coalition Government, is not certain of passing through Parliament, as there is opposition from some minor parties and independent members who are in favour of a direct parliamentary vote. The Federal Opposition, the Labor Party, has not yet decided whether to support the plebiscite legislation; it prefers a direct vote as well.