ASCM Statement on Marriage Equality

The Australian Student Christian Movement calls on the Australian government to make civil marriage a reality available to all Australians, without regard to gender, and opposes the proposed postal plebiscite on marriage equality as a flawed and inadequate process.

The Australian Student Christian Movement (ASCM) is an ecumenical movement of tertiary students, university faculty and senior friends with a history in Australia dating back over a hundred years. The ASCM affirms and celebrates our LGBTIQ members and friends. With our parent body, the World Student Christian Federation, we are called to advocate for justice, liberation, and peace for all. Every person equally bears the image of God regardless of race, class, caste, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. As every human is made in the image of God, we have no option but to affirm the dignity and personhood of all people.

The traditional understandings of civil marriage and Christian marriage have never been identical, though they have been seen to be complementary. Extending the definition of civil marriage to be available to persons of the same gender will break this connection for many if not most churches. The understanding of marriage that is held by churches and other faith communities must be accorded full respect. We are involved in a long process of social transition which requires a nuanced and respectful attention to the needs of all sections of our society, not the simplistic imposition of one view without regard for the other views.

We therefore oppose the proposed postal plebiscite process because it presents us with a 'winner takes all' choice, at least on the face of it (though a non-binding opinion poll can hardly offer a clear 'winner'). This will promote and prolong a campaign of misinformation and attacks on an already vulnerable LGBTIQ community, as well as stir up unnecessary fears and prejudices among people of conservative opinion. Despite our objections, we encourage people to participate in this plebiscite so that the clear desire of conservative politicians to make use of it to reject the extension of civil marriage to same-gender couples will not succeed by default.

We support making civil marriage available to all couples who wish to make a binding commitment to each other, based upon free choice and love. We also ask the parliament to take its proper responsibility for decision-making in a respectful manner.

Enquiries: Claudine Chionh