Federal Member for Chisholm Julia Banks declared her unequivocal support for same-sex marriage this week, saying that the most disturbing aspect of the ‘no’ campaign was the view that “only a marriage between a man and a woman will ensure the protection of children”.
Our government will protect and ensure the religious freedoms of churches… no church would be forced to change its position on what it regards as the sacrament of marriage.
Writing in The Age newspaper, Ms Banks said that a ‘yes’ vote would acknowledge “that social mores change and should be reflected in that change to the law.” Drawing on her background as a practising lawyer in family law, the Melbourne MP added that she had seen firsthand “that love and stability is not automatically afforded to children simply because they have a mother and father,” and that the presence of love and stability could be found in the homes of parents regardless of their gender or sexuality.”
In what was an intimate and revealing opinion piece for Fairfax Media, Ms Banks alluded to the cancer diagnosis she was given in her late 20s, and the love she had received from her then partner Mike. “During that time he asked me to marry him. My darkest hours became brighter – simply by looking forward to that commitment of marriage. I felt safe, secure, loved and courageous.”
Ms Banks said the fact that two loving people are not able to have the equal rights at law that millions of Australians enjoy in loving marriages, was “about standing for equality for all, regardless of gender, race, sexuality or ethnicity.”
The Liberal MP, who holds one of Australia’s most marginal federal seats, and one with a diverse multicultural electorate, added that marriage equality was about “equality before the law” and that respectful debate on the issue was vital and a “cornerstone” of Australian values.
With the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia opposed to same-sex marriage, Ms Banks told Neos Kosmos that should the marriage equality referendum result in eventual legislation allowing same-sex marriage, that no church in Australia would be forced to change its fundamental religious principles.
“The Turnbull government has given everyone the right to have their say, and that is what separates us from Labor. The reason we have done that is that we respect everyone’s view.
“But let me say clearly, in the event of any future amendments to the marriage act, our government will protect and ensure the religious freedoms of churches – including those of the Orthodox Church, and that no church would be forced to change its position on what it regards as the sacrament of marriage.”