#DearPM: Marriage Equality (20 of 30)

Good morning everyone,

It’s day 20 of the #DearPM campaign. Can you believe it? It has been an incredibly rewarding process to receive these submissions from so many different people, with different perspectives on why they support marriage equality.

20-of-30

Today’s submission is from my friend Aleem Ali, a Christian Pastor, community leader and just a brilliant person. I read a blog post from Aleem a few weeks back and it just provided a great perspective on supporting marriage equality. Click here to read Aleem’s post.

I’m buoyed by Aleem’s participation in the project, he is a great voice and a wonderful ally.

The project is a third of the way through, and I need nine more submissions. Please make a submissions by emailing damien@djomeara.com.

Take care,
Damo

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

4 December 2016

#DearPM: Marriage Equality (20 of 30)

To the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP,

On day 20 of this project, I want to talk about the misrepresentation of Christians in this campaign. The picture painted of Christian people is one of people who are anti-equality and anti-LGBTI. If I didn’t know so many Christians who support marriage equality, I’d feel like they are a group of people who hate me. Luckily, I know that this generalisation is completely wrong. Through the people I know, and through some consistent and reliable polling, I can conclusively say that Christians support marriage equality.

The Galaxy Poll conducted through 2009 to 2012 has Christian support for marriage equality at 53%, while a 2014 Crosby Textor poll has it almost at 60%. If you break that Crosby Textor poll down to Catholics, support for marriage equality is at 67%.

Today’s submission is from an incredible and kind person, whom I’ve been lucky enough to know. Aleem Ali is a Christian Pastor, community leader, and all-round beautiful human being. He is a voice that speaks for people who are often misrepresented in this debate.

Aleem’s argument is simple, please think of the children.

Dear Prime Minister,

I am a happily married, heterosexual man with a tribe of children (seven, to be precise). I am also, amongst other things, a Christian Pastor.

I meet, help and work with people of all cultures, creeds, genders, sexualities, relationship and parental statuses. My gender, sexuality and marital status afford me a privilege that many other Australians don’t have. This needs to change.

As you know, Australia is a secular country. Religious freedom is enshrined in our constitution, and marriage is a function of government and the State. The church does not have the monopoly on the legal definition of marriage and nor should it. And we certainly shouldn’t be coercing the government to conform to a religious view.

I am all too aware that the biases and opinions I hold as a Christian are often more cultural than Christ-like. And as a follower of Jesus, my narrative on relationships needs to be informed and underpinned by him. Jesus describes relationships of counter-narrative. Loving our neighbours and our enemies. Blessing and not cursing. Seeking the peace and prosperity of the cities we live, work and play in. For all people. Not just the ones we like, or who behave like we want them to.

When the church seeks to play the role of government in law-making and gatekeeping we fail the communities we exist to serve. When we limit the rights and freedom of individuals based purely on their gender or sexuality, then we begin to threaten the rights and freedom of all.

The campaign against marriage equality, led by the Australian Christian Lobby, has been careful to remove the marriage debate from religious considerations and church doctrine and base their position around children’s rights. Their rallying cry is, “But what about the kids? Think of the kids who won’t have a mother and a father.”

Prime Minister, I too would you urge you to think about the kids. Think about kids struggling to come to terms with being same-sex attracted and considering suicide as their only option. Think about the kids all across our nation who are already being raised by two mums or two dads, and who face bullying and exclusion every other day of the week. Think of the kids who no longer believe in the institution of marriage because it’s been such a disaster in their life. Think of the kids in and out of foster care whose parents have completely failed them.

Prime Minister, how is refusing marriage equality going to improve any of these kids’ lives? Instead, shouldn’t we be working towards an Australia in which all kids can feel valued and have a sense of belonging?

I would suggest that the points articulated by the “no” campaign are disingenuous. Their arguments are grounded in surrogacy, adoption, and parental law all of which are separate from marriage law. The majority of scenarios and situations the “no” campaign are presenting already exist. I trust then that they are lobbying your government for the existing laws to change? Or is it that “the kids” is simply a more palatable argument?

I will never have to endure or grapple with the inequality and hostility that many people in the LGBTI community face and even lose their lives over. Yet, I cannot remain silent. Our freedom is contingent on the freedom of those around us. I urge you to lead our nation towards a vision of who we can be, in all our diversity and richness, together. I urge you to lead a free vote on marriage equality in federal parliament.

I am deeply concerned that we are becoming a nation known more for what are against than what we are for. I would like to believe that we can be an increasingly inclusive, diverse and unified nation. Please begin to lead us there.

Yours sincerely,
Aleem Ali, Queensland

As Aleem points out, many children are already growing up in families of two mums and two dads:

  • What advice has the Prime Minister received from the Minister for Social Services about the number of families that exist in Australia with two parents of the same gender?

This is my twentieth letter in a series calling for a free vote on marriage equality in the parliament, and in your current term. A free vote is the correct way to legislate for marriage equality. You could allow this to happen today.

Yours sincerely,

Damien O’Meara

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