#947 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 24 Aug 2014.
The debate over same sex marriage is back on the federal parliamentary agenda, with a bill introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young seeking to recognise foreign same sex marriages in Australia.
A rarely acknowledged casualty of marriage reform is the denial of freedom of conscience experienced by wedding venue operators, caterers, florists and photographers who might decline to offer services to same sex couples for personal religious reasons.
Stiff penalties are imposed on such persons on the grounds of discrimination, trumping the fundamental human right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.
In the State of New York, for example, Cynthia and Robert Gifford were recently fined $13,000 for acting on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman and thus declining to rent out their family farm for a lesbian wedding.
We can expect similar situations to multiply if same sex marriage comes to Australia.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.