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AUSTRALIAN NEWS 2nd May 2012

Sent: Wednesday 2/May/2012 Topic: National

SAME - SEX MARRIAGE IS THREATENING OUR FREEDOM OF FAITH

Source: by Jim Wallace - Australian Christian Lobby

The concurrent parliamentary inquiries on gay marriage mark a new low point in what has been the constant manipulation of truth and democratic process by gay activists in the pursuit of same-sex marriage. As the inquiries closed it was evident that they had been reduced to the status of cheap public polls instead of what they should be - our highest forums for review for public policy. The manipulation of truth over this issue has had a long precedent and we should question why it is necessary.  It began with the claim that 10 per cent of the population were homosexual some 30 years ago, perpetuated even today and in some cases with even wilder claims, when authoritative studies put the number of homosexuals at between 1.5 and 2 per cent of the population.

Activists have persisted in the claim that not being allowed to marry will leave homosexual couples discriminated against, when some 85 laws have been changed to ensure that no such discrimination exists in any area of entitlement.  This lack of critical analysis of gay activists' demands has also resulted in concessions in other areas of policy that are not only illogical but clearly against the rights of others and particularly children.  A combination of public demonisation of alternative voices and misrepresentation of fact, mean we have even removed fathers' names from birth certificates, allowed babies and wards of the state to be given to two men, and single men to be able to get a child through surrogacy.

Deliberate intent to deceive parliament and public opinion is best illustrated by the blatant and widespread misrepresentation of numbers in favour of marriage in individual electorates in 2011.  Greens MP Adam Bandt had called for politicians to seek the opinion of their electorates on same-sex marriage and to report back last August.  Fortunately those trying to rig the result had not counted on the ability of politicians to check names against electoral roles. Malcolm Turnbull reported that of 4,000 responses received, nearly 1,700 were from outside the electorate.  Graham Perrett MP for Moreton noted that he received 900 out of 2,270 responses from outside his electorate. 

This can hardly be less than deceit on a grand scale and must cause us to question not only the relevance of numbers in the current inquiries, but how much we can trust the assurances of these activists that they would not move straight from gay marriage if they ever achieved it, to persecution of those who hold alternate views. Two of the current Bills before the parliament contain supposed assurances that freedom of religion and conscience would be protected for both individual ministers and churches.  But the deceit and manipulation used in getting this far and overseas experience give no such confidence to most people of faith.

There are a growing number of overseas examples of gay activism pursuing churches and individual Christians through litigation despite guarantees in legislation. In the UK a supposedly reasonable approach to provide civil partnership ceremonies, which in legislation specifically excused the church from participating, was changed after six years of activism to say the church may participate.  Immediately and predictably the next phase of gay activists intolerance was announced when MP Mike Weatherley declared that any church that didn't provide homosexual marriage should lose its licence to conduct any. This vulnerability for the church was placed in sharp relief by a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

Two French lesbians had been denied the right to adopt because the law there requires that you must be married. But the French government has repeatedly denied same-sex marriage based on this sort of consequence, which it judges not to be in the best interests of children. The French courts have ruled that denying same-sex marriage is not unconstitutional. The plaintiffs clearly expected a different approach from a human rights court but didn't get it. Firstly the court said that gay marriage or adoption were not human rights and therefore that the French government was within its rights to deny it. However, it also made the telling point that in countries where same-sex marriage had been given, that adoption and indeed any right accorded married people as a group could not be denied.

The implication for churches and people of faith, is that to legislate for gay marriage is to create a vulnerability for their freedom of faith and religious conscience. Churches will be unable to deny religious services without expecting expensive litigation from these activists, if only to put pressure on governments to remove protections in the law. These vulnerabilities are real when you consider the current determination of homosexual activists to remove protections for freedom of religion from both federal and state anti-discrimination laws.  Many submissions by homosexuals to the current review of federal anti-discrimination laws have demanded the removal of these protections in a show of intolerance to other people's sensitivities and right to live according to their worldview.

But if the methods should make our politicians wary of changing the Marriage Act, then the reality of the need for activists to misrepresent the numbers, so essential in politics, should strike at the very heart of their political interest. Public polls asking in isolation whether people support homosexual marriage draw predictable responses when activists' propaganda paints a false picture of discrimination.  But there is strong evidence that very few people decide their vote on the basis of gay marriage. In the recent Queensland election Anna Bligh worked feverishly to court the gay constituency.  She had passed laws allowing gay surrogacy and rushed through civil union legislation in a desperate attempt to win the gay vote. 

Well she probably did, but the political irrelevance of it was well demonstrated when it couldn't even secure the inner city seat of the parliament's champion of gay rights Andrew Fraser. Regardless of the size of the general vote against Labor and what you mainly attribute it to, this is a telling reality, and one clearly reinforced by the lack of real importance of gay marriage to other parts of the supposedly progressive electorate. In a recent poll of its members to determine their areas of primary concern, GetUp! had to admit that gay marriage didn't even appear in their top ten issues.  How much lower will it be for others given the nature of GetUp!'s membership and the high profile of its same-sex marriage campaign with it? 

This outcome simply confirmed a truth already revealed in GetUp!'s 2008/09 Annual Report where the issue of gay marriage figured 12th on the members' list of concerns.  In fact it was rated more often as the issue they least wanted GetUp! campaigning on. In light of the trail of deception used in pursuit of gay marriage, the inevitable manipulation of the public submission stages of the two most recent parliamentary inquiries should carry a strong lesson for politics and the general population.  One is that governments cannot afford to create vulnerability for people of faith when the mischievous intent of many of the activists pursuing this agenda is so obvious, and the second is that falsely contrived support for gay marriage will not be relevant in the privacy of the polling booth.


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TELSTRA PULLS OUT OF PORN MARKET AFTER CUSTOMER BACKLASH

Source: Compiled by APN from information supplied by the media

Telstra has bowed to pressure from anti-pornography campaigners and removed salacious content, previously available to stream and/or download for a fee, from its Big Pond service. In a newsletter issued to staff on April 11, Telstra chief David Thodey wrote that he had recently received emails from customers who ''thought we shouldn't promote adult-orientated movies or videos that objectify women. ''I have to agree. We have therefore decided that we will no longer promote access to adult-orientated content through our websites.'' Thodey went on to put the decision ''in context'', by pointing out that the content - which included titles such as Dirty Housewives and Hot Asians Get Wet - was ''mild compared to what's available on the internet''.
 
Telstra has said none of this content - which the organisation referred to as ''glamour'' rather than ''soft-core porn'' - was rated above MA15+. It was, however, available via a web page that also pointed to children's content, with links to Playboy sitting on the same menu line as those to Go Diego Go. Thodey informed his staff that Telstra had decided to remove such content because ''we cannot support anything that is sexist or that is inconsistent with our values''. He wrote that Telstra is ''in many ways Australia's largest family company. We are owned by more than a million Australian families, many of our customers are Australian families and family businesses."

Thodey added "We have, through the Telstra Foundation and our corporate citizenship efforts, dedicated ourselves to promoting Australia's cultural and gender diversity through initiatives such as the Telstra Business Women's Awards. ''Our decision is consistent with our values of respect and diversity.'' The presence of soft-core porn on BigPond is not a new phenomenon, with Telstra admitting that such content has been available for streaming and/or download for at least a decade. The issue has occasionally been raised in the media, but it was a report in late February that noted the proximity of such offerings to a page dedicated to Telstra's support of women in the workplace that prompted Ruth Limkin - an occasional columnist with Brisbane's Courier-Mail - to write directly to Thodey.
 
On March 6, Collective Shout, the activist group that campaigns against pornography and the sexualisation of children, added its voice. But suggestions that the win is proof of Collective Shout's growing clout were refuted by Telstra, which claimed it had not even heard of the organisation until today. Telstra's decision was in fact first revealed to Limkin in a letter from Thodey after Telstra decided against announcing it publicly. On April 23, Limkin published the text of Thodey's letter to staff on her blog breadandjustice.com. She included fulsome praise of Thodey's, and Telstra's, response in removing the offending content.
 
''We celebrate your good corporate citizenship,'' Limkin wrote. ''You have provided an example we can point to of corporations who put people before profits. All of this deserves applause, and you most certainly have mine.'' On April 25, Collective Shout praised the move too. ''Good decision Telstra. We look forward to other Telcos following your lead.'' The organisation urged its supporters to ''let Telstra know what you think of their decision.'' Telstra has not revealed what the removal of the offending content will cost the organisation in terms of foregone revenue. But it did confirm that the positive feedback to date had significantly outweighed the negative feedback that prompted the move. Chances are brand affirmation like that is worth a lot more than its soft-porn offerings ever were.
 

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NSW COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OPPOSE CHANGES TO CHRISTMAS AND EASTER RETAIL TRADING

Source: Press Release from NSW Council of Churches

The NSW Council of Churches has called on the NSW Government to cease further deregulation of retail trading hours in NSW. "The Council passed a unanimous resolution at its April meeting supporting the rights of retail workers to shared leisure time with their family and friends on major NSW public holidays," Council of Churches President, Rev Dr Ross Clifford, said. "We are particularly concerned about proposed amendments to the current Retail Trading Act that  widens the number of businesses that can operate on restricted trading days, and also allows for the stocking of shelves on major religious holidays. We are not convinced that leisure and family time for workers, together with their freedom to worship, will not be abused by the proposed changes to the law," Dr Clifford said.

The resolution states that the NSW Council of Churches:

 (a) opposes any changes to current NSW legislation with respect to retail trading on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Anzac Day;

(b) expresses serious reservations regarding any changes to current legislation with respect to retail trading on other public holidays including Boxing Day; and

(c) supports moves to ensure that the rights and freedoms of workers are not eroded by any changes to legislation.

The Council made its decision on the basis of widely agreed and biblically informed principles of justice:

(a)     All persons are created equal and should be treated with dignity and respect;

(b)     Workers have a right to adequate rest from their employment;

(c)     A healthy work-life balance delivers benefits to workers, their families, their employers and the whole community and employers should take care not to impose responsibilities on their employees which lead to a deterioration in work-life balance.

"We do not believe that the number of restricted trading days in NSW should be reduced," the Rev Rod Benson, Public Affairs Director for the NSW Council of Churches, said. "The state has a responsibility to serve and protect the interests of its citizens with respect to employment conditions and entitlements. These are easily eroded or removed by commercial and corporate pressures, and once reduced are difficult to reinstate," Rev Benson said.



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