December 11, 2017

Unity the true fruit of ‘OK to say No’ campaign

A family poses for a photo at the recent Festival of the Family in Prairiewood, Sydney. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

For the last few weeks, we have looked at how a change in the law will affect education, particularly the introduction of LGBTIQ sex and gender education in schools and the loss of the rights of parents to object to – or even know about –what they are being taught.

We also considered how a change would affect freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Indeed, I have painted a very bleak picture of a post same-sex marriage future for Australian families.

I’m not being an alarmist. The consequences of a change are very real indeed.

However, now that we are over halfway through the campaign and today is one month until we receive the results of the survey, I think it is a good time to speak about the good things that have and will come from this process, whatever the final result.

In a similar way to how Laetare Sunday gives us a moment during our solemn observance of Lent to pause and remember to be joyful because we know that the Resurrection follows Good Friday, I would like to spend a bit of time this weekend reflecting on some of the real signs of hope I have already seen since this debate began in earnest.

One very exciting outcome from this campaign has been the unity so evident in the ‘no’ campaign.

Many different Christian denominations have joined together as part of this fight, as have non-Christian faith groups and ethnic, family and community groups of no particular faith and even those with no faith at all.

Differences have been put aside and this diverse bunch have united under a common banner – the Coalition for Marriage – and a common message.

Please do not underestimate what an extraordinary development this is.

Church leaders from both sides of the Catholic-Orthodox, and Catholic-Protestant, divide have joined with ethnic minorities from every corner of the globe to celebrate and defend marriage. PHOTO: Giovanni Portlelli

Not only has it been of great benefit for this particular debate, but the unity amongst supporters of marriage and family will stand us in good stead to uphold these values in the future, whatever the outcome of this survey.

This level of cooperation will, I believe, be permanent, and that can only be good for everyone.

As a good and holy Priest once told me: “Unity is a sign of the Holy Spirit being at work.”

It is clear that the Spirit is moving and working throughout this process, and that should be a cause of great comfort to all of us.

The next good thing to come out of this process is what the polls are telling us: that support for the ‘yes’ campaign has dropped significantly in the past few weeks.

From a very strong lead in the polls, to the race now looking too close to call, it is clear that Australians who have taken the time to engage in the arguments presented are moving firmly into the ‘no’ camp.

The dramatic drop in support for the ‘yes’ campaign equates to millions of Australians who now better understand the true nature of marriage, the consequences of changing its definition, and the importance of participating in a process to defend it.

Again, this change is a permanent one.

Moving forward, we will have an Australian community more disposed to initiatives aimed at protecting and supporting marriage and family life, and this is a wonderful thing.

Another great development is the millions of parents who are now attentive to what their children are being taught in school in relation to radical LGBTIQ sex and gender programs such as Safe Schools.

Because parents are often not told when these materials are being presented to their kids and what the lessons contain, many parents were unaware of these types of programs prior to the marriage debate beginning in earnest. Not anymore.

From now on, many more parents will be holding schools and education departments to account, when it comes to the materials to which their children are exposed.
Again, this is a permanent and very good change to come out of this process.

Finally, there appears to be an increased willingness for people to speak up.

For so many years, those who support marriage between a man and a woman have been too afraid to admit it; they would have seen others who do stick their heads above the parapet be shouted down as bigots and homophobes, having their businesses targeted for boycott, threatened with violence or legal action and so engaged in self-censorship.

Not anymore.

Realising that it is not only marriage at stake, but freedom of speech as well, people are being increasingly bold in their defence of marriage and freedom.

Could anyone have ever imagined that thousands of people would be willing to knock on doors to speak about marriage, or stand in public places waving ‘It’s okay to say ‘no’’’ placards?

The energy shown by supporters of traditional values is wonderful sight and I don’t think they will stop in their advocacy after 15 November… they look like they are enjoying it too much!

So while officially, the results of the same-sex marriage survey are still a month away, there have already been extraordinary victories for the ‘no’ campaign.

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