Calling on Australian Prime Minster Kevin Rudd to overturn the Australian Capital Territory Government’s new laws recognizing same-sex civil unions, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge has charged that the unions “mimic” marriage and will undermine its importance.
The ACT’s Legislative Assembly has passed laws for legally binding civil union ceremonies between same-sex couples. It is the third attempt to recognize the ceremonies, with the assembly’s previous legislation having been rejected by both the Rudd government and the Howard government, the Australian Associated Press reports.
Responding to the legislation, Archbishop Coleridge said in a Monday statement “It is vital for the life of the nation that marriage be supported and promoted in every way possible at a time when it is under severe pressure.”
He argued that civil unions would reduce marriage between a man and a woman to being merely one of a number of options. He explained that marriage is a recognition that the relationship between a man and a woman is “uniquely important” to society, in large part because it can beget children.
Saying it is wrong to deny justice to homosexuals, he added that justice concerns rights and duties.
“In this case we are not talking of the right of some to which there corresponds a duty for all. We are talking of a desire – something which some may want but to which they are not necessarily entitled.
“In this case, the kind of civil union desired by some undermines the common good, which is served only where marriage between a man and woman is identified and supported as unique and uniquely important for society.”
Archbishop Coleridge said that confusing desires and rights is bound to lead to bad law, as is the case when a government “focuses upon the individual at the expense of the community as a whole.”
The archbishop noted that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had made a “clear commitment” to prevent marriage from “being undermined in this way.”
“Until now he has shown admirable resolve in holding to that commitment,” the prelate’s letter concluded, calling for the Prime Minister and the government to act in the interests of the Australian community by overturning the ACT legislation.