Australia ready for Same Sex Marriage equality

November 15, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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61.6% of Australians who voted in the same sex marriage survey have voted YES to legislate marriage equality.

Almost 80% of eligible voters registered their view.

There has been a quick response from Jewish leaders.

Anton Block

President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Anton Block: “The government cannot ignore the high response rate to the survey on same sex marriage, even though participation was voluntary, and the fact that a strong majority has expressed a view in favour of such marriages being recognised in Australia’s civil law.

We expect that an amendment to the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act will be enacted in the near future.  This does not affect religious marriages.  Members of the clergy will continue to have the right to refuse to perform or participate in any marriage ceremony at their discretion.  We also expect that religious institutions and religious schools will continue to have the right to teach and preach their religious beliefs, including their beliefs about the institution of marriage being between a man and a woman.

I do not believe there is a compelling case to permit individuals to conscientiously object to providing goods, services and facilities in relation to the solemnisation of a same-sex marriage. In matters of ordinary trade and commerce, as distinct from matters of religious practice, all people are entitled to be protected from discrimination on arbitrary grounds.”

Rabbi Dr Ben Elton of Sydney’s The Great Synagogue added: “Now that the issue of same sex marriage has been

Rabbi Ben Elton

democratically determined, Rabbis and other faith leaders should turn to promoting the positive values that underpin strong families: fidelity, mutual respect and support, love, stability and responsibility.

We also have to combat forces that disrupt families: alcohol, drug and gambling addiction, domestic violence and poverty. These are issues which all right minded people agree on, and after a divisive campaign we have to work together as a united community to promote the values we share.”

The following statement was issued by Rabbi Kim Ettlinger (Chair of Progressive Rabbis of Australian Rabbis) and Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins – Chair of Masorti Rabbis of Australia.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins

“The Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, along with the Council of Masorti Rabbis of Australia, rejoice that the plebiscite has endorsed marriage equality to be part of Australian law.  We urge the Parliament to adopt legislation as soon as possible to implement the will of the Australian people for marriage equality, without undermining current anti-discrimination law.”

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is delighted that the same sex marriage plebiscite is now completed and that the people of Australia have shown that they are clearly in support of equality.  We hope that Parliament moves quickly to pass legislation that reflects the outcome of the plebiscite and the spirit of the message inherent within in it –  support for equal rights, empathy and respect.  We expect that religious freedoms will be protected, and equally that current protections against discrimination and intolerance are not watered down.

President of the JCCV, Jennifer Huppert stated, “We are concerned that the LGBTIQ members of our community and their families may face mental health concerns over the coming weeks, as the proposed same sex marriage Bills are debated.  We again call for all debate to be respectful, and that anyone with or seeing others facing mental health challenges seek expert advice or support, such as through the LGBTI Switchboard, Beyond Blue, Headspace or Jewish Care Victoria.  Service options and contact details can be found in the JCCV LGBTI Service Directory.”

The Australian people have spoken and resolved that the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry.

Senator Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance Deputy Leader of Government in the Senate said: “It is now incumbent on the Australian Parliament to give effect to that decision by the Australian people.

Australians clearly embraced the opportunity to have their say as part of this process, with nearly 80 percent participating and having their voice counted. That is a record for a national voluntary postal survey or voting exercise.

Rabbi Kim Ettlinger and Jonathan Barnett
Photo: Joshua Susskind

Jennifer Huppert

Consistent with our commitment at the outset of this Marriage Law Postal Survey process, the Government will now facilitate consideration of a Private Member’s Bill through the Parliament.

Which Private Member’s Bill proceeds for consideration and in which form it is ultimately passed is now a matter for the Parliament.

Consistent with the Government’s commitment from the outset of this process, there will be no Government position or Coalition Party Room position on any such Private Member’s Bill. Now that the Australian people have spoken, every Coalition Member and Senator has a free vote in relation to a Private Member’s Bill to give effect to their decision.

As part of this process now, it will be incumbent on the Parliament over the next few weeks to determine the appropriate level of religious protections as part of implementing this reform to our marriage laws.

Overwhelmingly, Australians have participated in this process with courtesy and respect. There have been no complaints in the course of this process, which meet the test of vilification.

This has been a significant logistical undertaking exceptionally well delivered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, supported principally by the Australian Electoral Commission, Australia Post, the Depart ment of Human Services and the Department of Finance. Thank you to all those public service teams involved in this process.”

Rabbi Chaim Ingram Honorary Secretary of the The Rabbinical Council of NSW said: “The result of the SSM survey is not overwhelming.  Within a corporate structure, a two-thirds majority would be required for major change to take effect.

 It is vitally important that when drafting any legislation to recognise same-sex marriages, the sensitivities of those who conscientiously object to same-sex marriage – not only ministers of religion but also religious civil celebrants, caterers, hoteliers, restauranteurs, bakers, florists, photographers and the like – be respected and their right to refuse to service a same-sex celebration be enshrined in law.

 It will also be vital for government  to recognise the rights of parents to withdraw their children from what they may regard as inappropriate sex-education lessons at school.”

Vic Alhadeff, CEO of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, said: “We are not making a comment, just standing by our September resolution which passed 99-1 supporting SSM.”

Kim Gottlieb from Dayenu told J-Wire: “Today is a wonderful day in Australia. It is a glorious day for queer folk who now know for sure that the majority of Australians want their lesbian and gay brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues to enjoy equal rights to celebrate their relationships, under the law.

It is a great day for Australian Jews around the country who were called upon to make a distinction between the code of Jewish law and the moral imperative to “love your neighbour as yourself”. And it is an important day in the history of Australia, when we realise that our democratic system, though flawed, can sometime rise to the occasion and ensure that the wishes of the people are heard by our politicians. It remains to be seen how they will respond. It is possible that a bill to allow same sex marriage will be passed before the end of the year, but our work is not done until it is. Dayenu is deeply grateful to everyone who voted YES.

We are grateful to everyone who started a conversation or made a phone call, which may have influenced friends or relatives. We are profoundly grateful to the Jewish Board of Deputies, Emanuel Synagogue and North Shore Temple Emanuel for their active engagement in this campaign. And we are grateful to members of other Jewish congregations and organisations, who  may have worked more subtly but also did their bit to move Australia toward this milestone event. This means a great deal to members of Dayenu, to gay folk across the country, and to the spirit of hope it inspires in us all, towards a world of Tikkun Olam – a world repaired and made whole, through acts of loving kindness, care for one another and a vision for peace and unity.”

Michael Barnett added: “Aleph Melbourne welcomes the result of the “Same-Sex Marriage” Postal Survey and looks forward to seeing marriage equality enacted under law in Australia without additional restrictions or degradation of dignity to LGBTIQ people.

We acknowledge that the mechanism the government used to gauge the sentiment of the population was unnecessary and hurtful to LGBTIQ people and hoped that the government would have simply voted on the legislation up-front, as they are elected to do.

We commend the Jewish Community Council of Victoria for their positive contribution to the welfare of LGBTIQ people and look forward to their further support of vulnerable members of the community over coming days and weeks.  We also commend the support from the growing number of congregations and community organisations that have been instrumental in advocating for equality, both the stalwarts and the newly supportive.

It is our hope that before long we will be seeing members of the Jewish community in gender-diverse and same-sex relationships celebrating their marriages, with the affirmation of their families, friends and community.  We know that such inclusion and celebration will bring families together, reduce the levels of mental health problems in young people and even save lives.

Lastly, we are deeply grateful to those in the community, and also to those beyond, who voted Yes.  Whilst the temptation to stick to old traditions may be enticing, the prospect of making new traditions will be incredibly rewarding, beyond expectations.  Thank you.”

J-Wire asked Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, Rabbi Levi Wolff and Rabbi Yaakov Glasman for statements. None responded.



2 Responses to “Australia ready for Same Sex Marriage equality”
  1. Michael Barnett says:

    Glad to have community leadership overwhelmingly onboard.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    The YES vote was highest nationally with over 80% YES in Melbourne and Melbourne Ports electorates (including Caulfield and East St Kilda). Melbourne Ports also includes many who have No religion.

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