Australians are blessed to live in a free country, and that we don’t really know how much we take for granted our freedoms until they’re taken away. For the past 200 years, every Australian has been privileged to enjoy the freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and religious freedom, yet we are now at a point in time where all those freedoms are under threat.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
They say, freedom of speech is the first of all other freedoms. Why? Because it is one of the primary cornerstones of a free society and one of the key reasons for the flourishing of Western Civilisation. Benjamin Franklin said, “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”
There has been growing concerns that freedom of speech is under threat with the rise of the LGBT movement and the legalisation of same-sex marriage. As we will list below, there has been numerous examples of bullying and harassment of Australians who simply voice their opinion that they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman — and if it’s bad now, how much worse will it get if same-sex marriage is legalised?
Here are 12 examples of freedom of speech under attack in Australia…
DR. PANSY LAI
Pansy Lai, a GP in northern Sydney, has been subject to a petition organised by GetUp! seeking her deregistration and has been inundated with phone and social media threats since she appeared in the first advertisement for the NO campaign. Dr Lai told The Australian she had reported to police one threat that she would be shot “this week”.
She also said her supporters in the Australian-Chinese community were “very alarmed and concerned that someone is trying to destroy my livelihood just because I spoke up for family values”.
Australia’s High Court declined to consider the case of an Iraq War veteran who was sacked from the Army Reserves for criticising gender and sexuality diversity policies, including its support for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Bernard Gaynor initially won an unfair dismissal case against the Australian Defence Force in 2015, arguing that his right to free speech had been breached when he was sacked two years earlier over his public comments.
However, the full bench of the Federal Court overturned that ruling earlier this year, saying the ADF had been within its rights to dump him for making statements contrary to its values.
Mr Gaynor said the defeat did not just affect him personally, and it meant that employers now owned the political views of their workers.
“If the organisation you work for supports policies that require ‘respect’, ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ — the buzzwords of the politically correct push for homosexual marriage — you can be lawfully sacked for supporting the No campaign,” he said.
COOPERS BREWERY CONTROVERSY
A lighthearted innocuous debate on gay marriage between two Liberal MP’s backed by Coopers and the Bible Society ignited a firestorm of controversy back in March this year.
It all started when Coopers Brewery, along with the Bible Society, appeared to be behind the release of a video (see below) on same-sex marriage called “Keeping it Light”.
The video shows Liberals MPs Tim Wilson — openly gay and pro-same-sex marriage — and Andrew Hastie — a conservative Christian and marriage traditionalist — engaged in a calm debate on the contentious issue while sharing a few Coopers light ales.
To coincide with the campaign, Coopers issued a commemorative light beer celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bible Society, complete with the society’s logo on cans and Bible inscriptions on the packaging.
The backlash was swift and brutal, with hundreds of posts and tweets (with the hashtag #boycottcoopers) accusing the video of homophobia and promoting an anti-gay marriage mantra. Many vowed that a Coopers beer would never touch their lips again.
About a dozen hotels in Sydney and Melbourne announced via social media their decision to cease selling Coopers products.
Coopers Brewery released a video statement distancing themselves from the Bible Society and affirming their support for ‘marriage equality’. They also cancelled its new range of commemorative cans celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bible Society.
The family of Heidi McIvor who fronts a national TV campaign opposing same-sex marriage has been vilified on social media and their church threatened with violence by LGBTI activists.
The parents of two have been accused of spreading hate speech and being morally bankrupt. Their names and phone numbers have been splashed all over Facebook, resulting in Mr McIvor being hit with a steady stream of abuse.
“I hope he hasn’t got children that have his DNA,” one Facebook post read, and another, “Let’s burn there (sic) church.”
The ad features three mothers talking about politically correct sexuality education, such as the Safe Schools program, which has been criticised for teaching gender fluidity and crossing the line between education and advocacy in the classroom.
Ms McIvor says, “What does worry me though is that it seems that no one can put forward an alternative opinion about marriage without it descending into personal attacks and threats.”
BEN ROGERS AND MARK POIDEVIN
Gay couple Ben Rogers and Mark Poidevin oppose same-sex marriage and feel their views are immediately dismissed as ‘homophobic’.
Both are happy to express their views, but say their honesty has come at a cost.
“The campaign’s gotten nasty on both sides and I think the comments that I hear are, ‘You’re a homophobe if you don’t support gay marriage,'” Mark said.
“I’m a gay person here that’s coming out and saying, ‘Well, no it’s not. It’s your right to have a view, your right to have a view either way and people should be respected‘.
“You’re not intolerant if you don’t support a view.”
Cella White, was one of three mothers featured in the Coalition for Marriage’s debut TV ad and made the claim that her son was told he could wear a dress to school next year if he wanted. Media outrage ensued.
The press ran articles of the principal of Frankston High flatly denying Ms White’s claim. “We checked with all the teachers; it never happened,” John Albiston said. “I have never had any complaints that we advised the boys they could wear dresses. We didn’t offer them that option.”
However, here’s one critical detail missing from the medias narrative. That detail? The Safe Schools program the school is part of indeed includes material saying boys should be allowed to wear a dress to school. Check the poster.
And the Safe Schools material itself suggests girls wear boys’ uniforms. See page 32 of the All Of Us program manual.
It seems the commitment of many journalists to same-sex marriage is so fierce they cannot see or report evidence that doesn’t suit their agenda. This, sadly, means opponents who still dare to speak up will get smashed.
ARCHBISHOP JULIAN PORTEOUS
In November 2015, a LGBT activist lodged a complaint under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 about the distribution of the Don’t Mess With Marriage booklet, which was a pastoral letter from the Australian Catholic Bishops outlining the Church’s teaching on marriage, in Catholic schools in Tasmania.
The complaint was made against Archbishop Porteous and all the Australian Catholic Bishops, and followed a call to action by Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome, who urged teachers and parents to make a complaint to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner about the pastoral letter.
I urge everyone who finds [the Catholic booklet featuring teaching on traditional marriage] offensive and inappropriate, including teachers, parents and students, to complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.
The reason complainants were encouraged to make complaints in Tasmania is because its anti-discrimination laws are the broadest in the country. The laws make it an offence to engage in conduct which offends, humiliates or insults someone on the basis of their ‘sexual orientation’ if it is reasonable to anticipate that person might be offended, humiliated or insulted. Intention is not relevant to the law, nor is the reasonableness of a person taking offense. The only requirement for reasonableness is whether it would be reasonable to anticipate that a person could be offended.
The Commissioner concluded that the complaint had enough merit to proceed to a full investigation, and so the parties proceeded to a conciliation process in an attempt to resolve the matter.
Given that the law which permitted the complaint remains in force, a statement from the Archdiocese of Hobart said that the Commissioner’s raises a number of issues which remained unanswered, in particular the ability of the Church to freely express its view on marriage.
Presbyterian pastor Campbell Markham has been hauled before Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination commissioner following a complaint about his comments on same-sex marriage.
The comments were made back in 2011, at a time of intense debate in Hobart. “Back then Hobart was a bit of a hotspot on these issues,” says Markham. As the convenor of the Presbyterian Church of Tasmania Social Justice committee, he has been expected to take a lead on controversial issues.
Markham is not hostile to the complainant, but rather concerned about the State’s law which has a low bar for complaints, and the readiness of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to allow the complaint to move forward.
Possible sanctions that the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner can impose range from Markham being told to take down his blog, to his having to undergo sensitivity training, or face a fine.
CANCELLING OF ACL EVENT AT MERCURE AIRPORT HOTEL SYDNEY
Following a social media campaign led by LGBT activist Simon Hunt (aka Pauline Pantsdown), an Australian Christian Lobby Event was cancelled at its advertised venue, the Airport Mercure Hotel in Sydney, back in September last year.
The Mercure tweeted “The ACL have advised their event will no longer be held at Mercure Sydney Airport due to safety and security concerns for guests and staff.”
“Post cited safety and security concerns for hotel guests and staff as the reason for the cancellation, telling SameSame that they had received a number of phone calls in addition to the social media posts.
“When asked if the decision to cancel was brought about by the hotel, or the Australian Christian Lobby, Post indicated it was a joint decision, telling SameSame it had been ‘reviewed on all parts.’”
The Australian reports that “the campaign by marriage-equality advocates had forced the company to close the hotel’s Facebook page, sparked phone calls that disturbed hotel staff and escalated the problem to the company’s headquarters. ‘We’ve conducted an objective review regarding the safety and security of our hotel guests and staff,’ she said. ‘Following this review the event will no longer take place next week.’”
Pantsdown told his Facebook followers “Thanks to everyone who took part in shutting down this event by the dangerous, predatory abusers known as the Australian Christian Lobby.” Pantsdown asked campaigners who had changed the star rating of the hotel online to go back and re-edit it.
Having pressured Coopers, IBM and PwC and their senior staff to sever links with Christian associations, gay rights activist Michael Barnett has turned his sights on academia, demanding Macquarie University force one of its lecturers to renounce a Christian educational organisation.
The move led the Christian group to warn the onus was on the university sector, as a national pillar of freedom of speech, to back its academics against political pressure from LGBTI activists.
Mr Barnett, who tweets as “mikeybear”, re-posted the list of directors of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, a training organisation established by the Australian Christian Lobby, and singled out Macquarie University senior research associate Steve Chavura as a member of the LMI board. Mr Barnett said he did not know if LMI or Dr Chavura had ever issued any anti-gay material, but said “I don’t think they are going to be running floats down Mardi Gras.”
— Michael Barnett (@mikeybear) March 27, 2017
“I think it’s a bad look for the tweeter, seeking to destroy the career of someone who has engaged in no abuse, no inflammatory speech whatsoever,” Dr Chavura said of Mr Barnett.
Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia was targeted by militant gay rights activists earlier this year who condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a Christian organisation.
Activists have criticised the IT giant and Sydney-based managing partner Mark Allaby, suggesting that his role on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internship program for young Christians, is incompatible with IBM’s public support on the issue. IBM are active supporters of Australian Marriage Equality, and their chief executives were among 20 corporate leaders to sign an unprecedented letter lobbying Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage.
Leading anti-discrimination lawyer Mark Fowler said employees with religious beliefs in conflict with their employers’ stand on marriage equality were particularly exposed.
“In NSW and SA there are currently no laws protecting individuals from expressing their religious beliefs,” Mr Fowler said. “Nor are there religious protections for individuals under commonwealth laws.” Fowler said.
Mr Barnett said he had nothing against Mr Allaby personally but his links with the Australian Christian Lobby meant he was a “target for equality campaigners like me”.
AUST POST UNION SAYS STAFF CAN BOYCOTT PAMPHLET DELIVERIES IF THEY’RE OFFENDED BY IT
Australia Post employees have the right to refuse distribution of any defamatory or offensive material which may accompany the divisive Yes and No campaigns for the marriage postal survey.
A spokesman for the national postal service today clarified the company’s rules around material distribution after a letter from the postie’s union warned of risks to the welfare of workers forced to deliver pamphlets or letters they deem offensive.
The clarification comes as a letter from the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union warned the “heightened risk” to the welfare of workers forced to deliver the marriage survey or campaign material if it is against their beliefs.
If the threat to freedom of speech is bad now for people who disagree with same-sex marriage, what’s going to happen after it’s legalised?
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE
While there has always been disagreement about what freedom of conscience requires in particular cases, the idea of freedom of conscience as a fundamental human right has more or less been a consensus in Australia. It became controversial only in recent years as the government tried to force Australians who embrace traditional values to violate their beliefs on same-sex marriage, and as leftwing advocacy groups decided that civil liberties aren’t for conscientious objectors to the sexual revolution.
Here are 22 chilling examples of freedom of conscience under attack in Australia and overseas…
CONCERNED SOLICITORS – AUSTRALIA
Solicitors have complained of being intimidated at their workplaces if they publicly criticise the endorsement of same-sex marriage by their professional association and law firms.
The intimidation, which has led to complaints by Catholic lawyers, came to light soon after the NSW Law Society’s support for same-sex marriage triggered a threat of possible legal action.
That move, by Sydney solicitor Robin Speed, prompted an organisation of Catholic lawyers to say it had received “a number” of complaints of intimidation.
“In a certain sense they are intimidated. There are young lawyers in firms who feel they cannot stick their necks out.” said barrister Michael McAuley, president of the St Thomas More Society.
TRINITY WESTERN UNIVERSITY – CANADA
Trinity Western University in British Columbia is a Canadian, Christian university. Students and staff at TWU must sign a community covenant as a condition of being at the school, which includes a promise to abstain from sexual activity unless it is between a husband and wife.
Accreditation of Teaching Graduates was refused based solely on the community covenant. Based on this position on marriage, the British Columbia Teachers Board voted to refuse accreditation to graduates of Trinity’s teacher college because they might discriminate against LGBTI students.
After years of litigation the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Trinity graduates right to be accredited in 2001. Accreditation of law graduates to practise law refused by Law Societies in 4 provinces based solely on the community covenant. In 2012 TWU applied to open a law school.
In response to TWU’s community covenant, several deans of Canadian law schools, as well as the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society called for the proposed law school not to receive accreditation. Four Provincial (State) Law societies voted not to accredit graduates from Trinity’s law school to practise in those Provinces. Cases are being litigated in 3 provinces’ appellate courts and are on the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
SWEET CAKES BY MELISSA – USA
In 2013, the state of Oregon went after the little family bakery of Aaron and Melissa Klein, when they declined to provide a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding, again citing their Christian beliefs. The state of Oregon fined them, going so far as to garnish their bank accounts and assets and taking a total of $144,000 for their refusal to violate the tenets of their faith. The bakery, which the couple worked to create for years, was shut down.
Aaron Klein is currently on disability after injuring himself working as a trash collector to provide for the couple’s five children. A GoFundMe campaign was set up to financially assist the Kleins, but activists bullied GoFundMe into cancelling the campaign. The Klein’s were also the target of a vicious campaign by gay activists intent on destroying their business and any other possible income streams, regardless of the cost.
BRENDAN EICH, MOZILLA – USA
Co-founder of the Mozilla Corporation—best known for its browser, Firefox—Brendan Eich was appointed chief executive of the company in 2014. It quickly emerged, however, that he had made a $1,000 donation in support of Californian anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, in 2008. A social media outcry quickly ensued. Furthermore, online dating website OkCupid posted a message to its users, asking them to boycott Mozilla by using an alternative browser when accessing their website:
“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”
Eich quickly stepped down from his new position. The executive chairwoman of Mozilla stated afterwards:
Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it … We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.
JACK PHILLIPS – USA
Jack C. Phillips, a baker in Denver, Colorado, was asked to create a wedding cake by a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, in 2012. Phillips refused, citing his Christian beliefs, but offered to serve them any other baked goods. Mullins and Craig opted to file a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination, claiming that he had treated them in a “dehumanizing” way.
The commission ruled against Jack, ordering him and his staff to design cakes for same-sex wedding celebrations, go through a “re-education” program, implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years to show that Jack has completely eliminated his religious beliefs from his business. Instead, in order to remain loyal to his conscience and his faith, Phillips stopped baking wedding cakes entirely. According to him, this has cost him 40% of his business revenue.
ASHERS BAKERY – NORTHERN IRELAND
In Norther Ireland, 2014, gay-rights activist Gareth Lee asked Ashers Bakery to produce a cake for him bearing the words: ‘Support gay marriage.’ The bakery refused, because they were unwilling to be seen to promote gay marriage that ran counter to their religious beliefs. They were taken to court. Ashers were found to have discriminated against Lee, based on his sexual orientation. Ashers’ general manager Daniel McArthur stated after the ruling:
We’ve said from the start that our issue was with the message on the cake, not the customer and we didn’t know what the sexual orientation of Mr Lee was, and it wasn’t relevant either. We’ve always been happy to serve any customers that come into our shops. The ruling suggests that all business owners will have to be willing to promote any cause or campaign no matter how much they disagree with it.
When the decision was appealed in 2016 by Ashers, the Court of Appeal also held in favour of Lee, stating that he had suffered discrimination based on his sexual orientation.
BARONELLE STUTZMAN – USA
Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington State, was ordered to pay over $1,000 in fines in 2015 after declining to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding. She had previously sold the couple in question flowers many times, but stated simply that providing floral arrangements for a wedding would violate her Christian beliefs.
The court held that the state may force Barronelle to choose between engaging in compelled expression celebrating an event that violates her religious faith or foregoing the wedding design work she has loved for 40 years. The Court also found that she faces personal liability for her decision.
Stutzman was also targeted by the fundraising website GoFundMe, which shut down her fundraising effort because of a new policy against “discriminatory acts.”
GIFFORD VS MCCARTHY, ERWIN – USA
In 2012, couple Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin contacted Cynthia and Robert Gifford to arrange their wedding ceremony at their Liberty Ridge Farm estate, New York. After learning that it would be a same-sex marriage ceremony, the Giffords declined to host the event. After complaining of unlawful practice, the McCarthy and Erwin were awarded $13,000 in damages by the New York State Division of Human Rights, based on its findings that the Giffords had committed ‘sexual orientation discrimination.’ For their part, the Giffords insisted that their decision to refuse to host the ceremony was based on the event, not the sexual orientation of the individuals in question. The court brief stated that:
The Giffords serve everyone, including individuals who identify as gay and lesbian … In fact, the Giffords will gladly host myriad events, including wedding receptions, for same-sex couples. It is only same-sex wedding ceremonies that the Giffords cannot host or participate in.
Despite this, the ‘expressive endorsement’ argument forwarded by the Giffords was discounted, based on a perceived inextricability between sexual orientation and practice, in this case marriage.
HANDS ON ORIGINALS – USA
Blaine Adamson and his printing business, Hands On Originals, came under attack when they declined to create t-shirts for the pride festival hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (“GLSO”). Helping to spread a message that promotes sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman would violate Blaine’s Christian beliefs. So he could not in good conscience produce t-shirts for the GLSO’s event.
Blaine nevertheless offered to connect the GLSO to another printer who would create the shirts for the same price that he would have charged. In response, however, the GLSO’s president filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission alleging sexual orientation discrimination.
DAMIAN GODDARD – CANADA
Rogers Sportsnet TV host Damian Goddard was fired after he tweeted in support of traditional marriage in 2014, as a response to a tweet by sports agent Todd Reynolds. Reynold’s tweet, which in turn was answer a statement by NHL player Sean Avery’s support for same sex marriage was:
Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender ‘marriage’. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.
Goddard posted on his private Twitter account:
I completely and whole-heartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and true meaning of marriage.
Goddard’s employment with Rogers Sportsnet was terminated within 24 hours of his tweet. Sportsnet director Dave Rashford stated that ‘it had become clear that [Goddard] is not the right fit for our organization.’
CHICK-FIL-A – USA
Chick-fil-A (a national sandwich franchise) made corporate donations supporting groups opposed to same sex marriage. Its chief operating officer made a number of statements supporting traditional marriage. It was subjected to consumer boycotts and some universities refused to let it open franchises on their campuses. Three cities moved to block planning permission for new franchise stores. The Jim Henson Company, which had entered its Pajanimals in a kids’ meal toy licensing arrangement in 2011, said that it would cease its business relationship with Chick-fil-A, and donate payment for the brand to Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Citing safety concerns, Chick-fil-A stopped distributing the toys. Other suppliers backed Chick-fil-A and Chick-fil-A stopped the donations to groups opposed to same sex marriage.
REGAL HOMES – UK
A U.K. City Council has ordered a private company that it cannot build luxury flats and offices on a site it recently purchased that included a closed gay-bar unless it agrees to include a new gay bar as part of the development plan.
Tower Hamlets Council ordered earlier this month that developers Regal Homes must build a gay bar that will “remain a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years,” regardless of its ability to stay economically afloat.
The bar will only be deemed ‘complete’ once it passes an inspection from the mayor’s office who will make sure it is sufficiently “gay.” Standards for determining “gayness” were not disclosed.
Regal Homes has decided to comply with the City Council’s order rather than buck political correctness.
FAMILY FIRST – NEW ZEALAND
In 2013, New Zealand lobby group, Family First was notified by the Charities Registration Board that their charitable status was to be rescinded, which, according to Director Bob McCoskrie, was in part due to the group’s advocacy against same sex marriage. Family First appealed the decision, and in a 2015 High Court decision, regained its charitable status.
“We should always be concerned when the state determines what views are acceptable and what views are unacceptable. It’s about freedom of speech.” McCoskrie says.
PEMBERTON VS INWOOD – UK
In 2014, Church of England priest, Canon Jeremy Pemberton married his male partner Laurence Cunnington. As a result, Bishop Richard Inwood (pictured) revoked Pemberton’s license, which resulted in Pemberton being ineligible for a chaplaincy position in a NHS Trust. As a result, Pemberton brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal, arguing that Inwood had caused:
Unlawful direct discrimination because of sexual orientation and/or marital status and of unlawful harassment related to sexual orientation.
The tribunal did not agree, and found that Inwood had not unlawfully discriminated against Pemberton, who has since appealed the decision.
CORPORATE BOYCOTTS: GEORGIA – USA
In 2016 numerous companies threatened to boycott the US state of Georgia, after legislation was tabled seeking to expand religious freedom exceptions regarding same sex marriage, including allowing clergy to refuse to officiate in same-sex weddings. The companies involved included Disney, Intel, Coca Cola, Unilever, and others; as well as threats from the NFL and NBA that there would be negative consequences, in terms of match scheduling, if the laws were passed. Disney released a statement saying:
We will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.
HAZELMARY AND PETER BULL – UK
A Christian couple who refused to let a gay couple stay in a double bedroom at their B&B guesthouse, have been forced to sell up after losing a lengthy court battle.
Hazelmary and Peter Bull, who run Chymorvah Hotel at Marazion, Cornwall, have also faced death threats over their decision to refuse a room to gay couple Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy in 2008.
Now they say they have no option but to sell their beloved home and business after failing to attract enough custom and paying their legal costs after high profile court cases over the issue.
CRYSTAL DIXON – USA
The University of Toledo fired one of their staff members when she disagreed with the idea that gay marriage was a civil rights issue:
The university fired Crystal Dixon in 2008 from her interim post as associate vice president for human resources because she wrote an op-ed piece in the Toledo Free Press arguing that the gay rights movement should not be compared to the civil rights movement because she, as a black woman, did not get to choose her minority status but, she claimed, homosexuals do.
JIM AND MARY O’REILLY – USA
A lesbian couple sued the Wildflower Inn under the state public accommodations law in 2011 after being told they could not have their wedding reception there. The owners Jim and Mary O’Reilly were reportedly open to holding same-sex ceremonies as long as customers were notified that the events personally violated their Catholic faith.
It wasn’t enough. The inn had to settle the case in 2012, paying a $10,000 fine and putting double that amount in a charitable trust. Also, the inn is no longer hosting weddings, although the decision reportedly was made before the settlement.
RANDY AND TRISH MCGATH – USA
In 2014, an Indianapolis bakery owned by Randy and Trish McGath found itself the target of an online campaign launched by gay activists after they cited their Christian beliefs as the reason they would not provide a cake for a same-sex wedding. They were smeared as homophobes and hateful people, although they were willing to serve the gay community—just not participate in the celebration of a same-sex wedding.
“There is zero hate here,” McGath reiterated. “This causes us to do a lot of soul searching. Why are we doing what we do? We want to show the love of Christ. We want to be right with our God, but we also want to show kindness and respect to other people.”
KEVIN O’CONNOR – USA
A small-town Indiana pizzeria owned by a Christian family has closed its doors after being terrorized by pro-homosexual bullies opposed to the family’s religious values. Memories Pizza in Walkerton has received death and firebombing threats and had its website hacked…The attacks came after ABC-57 out of South Bend aired a piece March 31 highlighting the pizzeria owners’ support for Indiana’s hot-button Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The station claimed Memories Pizza, owned by Kevin O’Connor, was the “first business to publicly deny same-sex service.”
The owners specifically stated that anyone was welcome in the restaurant, but the story was set off by the fact that they said they would not cater a homosexual “wedding” because it would conflict with their Christian beliefs.
RICHARD AND BETTY ODGAARD – USA
In 2015, Mennonite couple Richard and Betty Odgaard were forced to close their business in Des Moines, Iowa, after being targeted by gay activists for their refusal to host a gay ‘wedding’ in their wedding chapel. A boycott campaign replete with vicious, profane messages and a civil rights complaint resulted in the Odgaards’ having to pay out a $5,000 settlement—ultimately, they lost their livelihood.
“We have to look on the positive side, but just telling our family what we are doing, telling vendors the decision that we’ve made, it’s been very tough,” Betty said.
STEVE AND BRIDGET TENNES – USA
Steve Tennes, who owns a 120-acre farm in Charlotte, Michigan, expressed his traditional view about marriage on the farm’s Facebook page, which drew a warning from an official more than 20 miles away in East Lansing, Michigan, that if Tennes tried to sell his fruit at the city’s farmers market, it could incite protests.
No one showed up to protest that August day last summer, though, and Tennes continued selling organic apples, peaches, cherries, and pumpkins at the seasonal market until October, as he had done the six previous years.
Nevertheless, East Lansing moved earlier this year to ban Tennes’ farm, the Country Mill, from participating in the farmers market when it resumes June 4. The city cited its human relations ordinance, an anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation.
Considering the numerous examples of people overseas being punished because they refused to violate their conscience it would make sense to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen in Australia. Vote NO.
Many Australians may not be aware that there is very little legal protection for religious freedom and belief in this nation. This is the evidence that has been given by legal and constitutional experts to the Human Rights Sub-Committee inquiry into Freedom of Religion and Belief. While a robust discussion about same-sex marriage takes place in Australian society, there needs to be enough legal protection for individuals, religious organisations and churches to express their views in the public square.
Religious people have as much right as anybody else to express their opinions in the public sphere. Their objections to same-sex marriage is not to impose discrimination upon homosexual people, but they reflect a simple disagreement on what the nature of marriage is.
They are just trying to remain true to their beliefs as their consciences dictate. They are not looking for trouble. They only ask not to be coerced into violating their own consciences and religious beliefs.
But it’s not just religious people that this matters with. In our hearts, we all have a belief structures that are sacred and dear to us, and we all know what it means to violate those deeply held beliefs.
BILL SHORTEN REFUSES TO AMEND LAW TO INCLUDE RELIGIOUS PROTECTIONS
At a forum conducted by The Guardian last year, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten committed a future Labor government to repealing protections for religious freedom if they were contained in legislation to change the Marriage Act.
Labor will oppose any attempt to extend discrimination law exemptions to allow people who object to same-sex marriage to deny goods and services to gay couples.
Responding to a questioner who asked him to rule out allowing bakers not to sell cakes to gay weddings, Shorten said Labor would oppose such discrimination law exemptions and repeal them at the earliest available opportunity if they passed.
“It’s not allowed now under the current law – why would we water down existing laws? We don’t need to water down anti-discrimination law to keep some people [who oppose same-sex marriage] happy.”
MARK DREYFUS INDICATES HE IS OPEN TO REMOVING RELIGIOUS PROTECTIONS
A change to the Marriage Act would remove fundamental rights to free speech and freedom of religion. Labor’s shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, said that Labor had removed exemptions (ie protections for free speech) before and is willing to look at it again.
This is an ongoing process. Just as Labor in office removed an exemption in relation to aged care in Australia — it is something that we will continue to examine when we get into government.
Shelley Argent of PFLAG is fine with protections for clergy, but no one else
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) spokeswoman Shelley Argent told the committee religious ministers and clergy should not be compelled to marry any couple, but allowing civil and military celebrants to refuse same-sex couples would be discriminatory.
She said no other minority groups would face similar discrimination and access to celebrants and wedding service providers in some parts of the country could already be limited.
“We strongly object to legislation permitting civil celebrants, military chaplains or any government employee having the right to refuse their services to same sex-attracted couples,” Ms Argent said.
“Additionally, we do not support businesspeople who charge for wedding services being legally permitted to refuse service to our same sex-attracted sons and daughters because of the couples’ sexual orientation.”
Exemptions from same-sex marriage laws would also continue existing LGBTI-discrimination, lead to “religious privilege” and be insulting, humiliating and degrading to couples and their families preparing for marriages.
In a statement issued last year, she reiterates,
However, we do not believe florists, bakers, or any other businesses should have the right to refuse service to LGBTI couples or any others (sic) minority.
In other words, it seems Shelley is completely fine with destroying the livelihoods of thousands of Christians involved in the wedding industry.
WHAT DO OTHER LAW ASSOCIATIONS SAY?
Thirty LGBT, human rights and legal lobbies said they wanted no exemptions, or draconian restrictions on exemptions, for churches, schools, community groups, let alone businesses. They said this in their submissions to the 2012 Federal inquiry into consolidation of anti-discrimination laws.
If this was their intention in anti-discrimination law, then what protection from prosecution would there for businesses, community groups and churches in a law allowing same-sex marriage?
[Legal Aid NSW] does not support the retention of any exemption on religious grounds.
The Consolidated Law should include no exemptions for religious organisations in relation to the protected attributes of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We recommend that the religious exceptions be repealed.
[Legal Aid Queensland] argues for the removal of those (i.e., religious) exemptions.
Religious exemptions should only apply to the core functions and beliefs of religious institutions...
[ANU College of Law] rejects permanent exemptions on religions grounds for institutions or individuals.
These exemptions are manifestly inappropriate and inconsistent with Australia’s human rights obligations and international best-practice.
Any religious exemption should be strictly restricted to the inherent requirements of the religious belief or activities rather than apply more broadly to employment-related conduct.
religious exceptions … should be precise, public, and subject to sunset provisions...
If exemptions are retained, then they should not ... be available where functions are being carried out by an organisation pursuant to a Commonwealth government contract or for activities conducted using public funds.
There should be no religious exemptions where: (a) The institution is carrying out functions contracted by government in relation to the employment; or where (b) The institution is accessing public funds to fund the employment.
Remove entirely any religious exemption to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
There should be no permanent exemptions for religious organisations in respect of any protected attributes.” However, if there are exemptions, they should be limited to “the ordination, appointment, training or education of priests, ministers of religion or members of any religious orders” and to institutions involved in the “employment of staff in the provision of religious education and training.
The consolidation bill should not provide for religious exemptions in relation to the protected attributes of sexual orientation or gender identity.” However, if there are exemptions, they “should not be applicable to organisations or services in receipt of public funding.
...religious institutions would be required to ‘opt-in’ for exemption under federal anti-discrimination laws.
There should exist no blanket exceptions or exemptions for religious bodies.
Religious bodies should not be granted exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation for their activities in the provision of services, such as aged care, health services and education.
… does not support general exemptions for religious bodies for any acts and practices”. Lesbian and Gay Solidarity (Melbourne) says that the federal government must “withdraw its religious exemptions from all its anti-discrimination laws.
…exceptions for religious organisation… should not be included in the consolidated Act.
[AFAO] says there should “be no religious exemptions in the new consolidated anti-discrimination law.
It looked favourably on exemptions, but argued that “it is essential that any remaining stand-alone exceptions are reviewed regularly and rigorously to determine whether they should be retained, amended or repealed...
[The Coalition of Activist Lesbians Australia] recommended “the complete removal of exemptions for religious organisations with regards to sexual orientation.
[Tasmanian Gay & Lesbian Rights Group] said that it “does not support any legislative exemptions or exceptions that are specific to sexual orientation of gender identity and presentation”
[VCCL] said that religious bodies and educational institutions should be required to have a “licence to discriminate, time-limited but renewable, conditional on … specific ‘doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings’ (that) necessitate it.
[ERT] said that Australia’s new consolidated act “should expressly recognise that direct discrimination may be permitted only very exceptionally, and only when it can be justified against strictly defined criteria.
[VGLRL] said that it “opposes any exemption granted to religious bodies that would permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Legislation should remove automatic exceptions for religious and other bodies from all anti-discrimination legislation, and that if any exceptions are made that they be limited to a two-year period, with no automatic extension of exemptions.
Excluding special measures, there should be no religious exemptions or exceptions to Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws.
The Consolidated Act should not include religious exceptions that apply to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.... If the Act does include religious exceptions, they should apply only to the ordination or appointment of priests, ministers of religion or members of a religious order.
That no exemptions to the consolidated anti-discrimination legislation are available for any organisation receiving government funding when performing those government functions. That if exemptions do exist they should be narrow, temporary and made public by organisations utilising them, including when advertising for jobs or the provision of services.
LGBT MEGA-DONOR REVEALS NEXT GOAL: ‘PUNISH THE WICKED’ SSM OPPONENTS
A prominent LGBT activist who has donated more than anyone else to LGBT causes has said that “wicked” people who advocate for laws protecting the religious freedom of conservative Christians to act in accordance with their views on marriage and sexuality need to be “punished.”
The Rolling Stone recently published a lengthy profile piece examining the contributions of Tim Gill, a software entrepreneur who has quietly been at the forefront of the push for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights in the United States over the past several decades.
“We’re going into the hardest states in the country,” the Rolling Stone article quoted Gill as saying. “We’re going to punish the wicked.”
UK: Millionaire gays sue Church of England for not allowing them to marry in church
Gay father Barrie Drewitt-Barlow declared: ‘I want to go into my church and marry my husband.’ He added: ‘The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the Church.’
He said it was a shame that he and his partner were being forced to take Christians to court to get them to recognise them, but he said the new law did not give them what they have been campaigning for.
The UK law states that it is illegal for the Church of England to marry same-sex couples. However, a succession of past court cases have resulted in defeats for Christians who were in disputes over equality laws, and in particular courts have always found in favour of gays who have challenged Christians.
Colin Hart, of the Coalition for Marriage (UK) said: ‘The ink’s not even dry on the Bill and churches are already facing litigation. We warned Mr Cameron this would happen, we told him he was making promises that he couldn’t possibly keep.
‘He didn’t listen. He didn’t care. He’s the one who has created this mess. Mr Cameron’s chickens are coming home to roost and it will be ordinary people with a religious belief who yet again fall victim to the totalitarian forces of political correctness.’
People who blandly assert that freedom of religion is adequately protected in Australia are either ignorant or being misleading.