Dear Mr Shorten…


This morning, Ian Powell, an Anglican minister in Canberra confronted the Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, about comments that Shorten made about those who disagree with same-sex marriage.

Following from this, I wrote the below email and sent it Mr Shorten:

Dear Honourable Mr Shorten,

My name is Joshua Bovis. I am an Anglican priest in NSW, I have been married for nineteen years and I have four children aged 15, 14, 13, 9. Today I saw the footage of your conversation with the Rev’d Ian Powell in Canberra and after viewing this I felt it prudent to write to you in order to highlight something pertaining to the debate surrounding marriage equality that perhaps you may not be aware of.

For many proponents of same-sex marriage, the prevailing paradigm (for the want of a better term) that is being put forward, is as follows:

Those who are for same-sex marriage, (aka marriage equality), hold to this position because:
1. They are tolerant;
2. They are loving;
3. They are accepting (of Gays & Lesbians);
4. They are informed

Those who are for the traditional view marriage (marriage between a man and a woman), hold to this position because:
1. They are bigoted;
2. They are haters;
3. They are homophobic;
4. They are stuck in the past

The problem, with this paradigm, sir, is that it a false paradigm. This paradigm does not even allow for the possibility that there are those who believe and uphold to the traditional view of marriage (between a man and woman), and who disagree with same sex marriage, who are:
1. Not bigoted;
2. Not haters (of the LBGTI community);
3. Not homophobic;
4. Who are informed and not stuck in the past

I understand from your public discourses presented in the media that you are for marriage equality and as an Anglican priest, who believes that the Bible is God’s final authoritative word in all matters of faith and practice, I disagree with your view.

But living in a democracy, of course, I realise that this is part of life and that we are all free in Australia to hold to a plethora of views and opinions. Not everyone will agree with everyone. However what I find rather disconcerting and disappointing is that your view seems to be articulated in a way which is invective rather than thoughtful and respectful.

For example:

1. You have been quoted from the Labor campaign launch in Sydney (19th June, 2016) as having said[1]Labor’s Election Campaign Launch, Sunday 19 June 2016:

“Instead of providing a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia we will gift every Australian an equal right in respect of love.”

2. At the National Press Club in Canberra (June 28th), you were quoted as saying[2]Australian Labor Twitter:

“NO $160 million plebiscite, no hurtful, hateful government sponsored advertising campaign for us.”

3. Your response to the the Coalition’s decision not to allow its members a conscience vote on same-sex marriage[3]Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Canberra: 12 August 2015:

“We hear some of the arguments used last night … one leading conservative right wing Liberal MP said that `Dolce and Gabbana never got married’. They are people who are genuinely stuck in the past.”

4. You made this comment, during your response in a debate on the 17th of June 2016, which was aimed at those in our nation who believe that marriage laws should not be amended[4]The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader go head to head in a Facebook debate:

“I think we’ve seen with two terrible events in the last week [the Orlando nightclub shooting and the murder of UK MP Jo Cox] that hate and extremism does exist in modern societies.” “I don’t want to give the haters the chance to come out from underneath the rock.”

Sir, your comments are not only invective, but they are also appear to indicate that you are also operating out of that same false paradigm. That those who disagree with marriage equality are homophobic, hateful, and stuck in the past.

Furthermore, your fourth comment which I have cited, where you equate those responsible for the appalling and heinous crimes in the USA and the UK with people such as myself, my family, and those within my parish who believe that marriage is between a man and woman is downright offensive to say the least.

The motto of the parish where I have the privilege to serve is this: Love God, Love His Word, Love People. We strive to be a people who love God, who love his Word, and what it says (including what it says about his intents and purposes for marriage, which is reflected in Australia’s current Marriage Act) and we strive to be a people who love people, even those who disagree with us, even those who are of the LGBTI community.

We may not agree with their lifestyles, we may not agree with same-sex marriage, but this does not mean that we are bigoted, hateful, or homophobic people who are stuck in the past.

If you are ever in Tamworth, NSW, you are most welcome to visit our parish, and I am certain that you would see that this is certainly the case.

Grace and Peace

References   [ + ]

  • John Angelico

    Well said, that man!

  • noel

    Jus wondered if you have read Unprotected Texts The Bibles Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire?

    • Lincoln Maurice

      I have, and it’s an interesting read, though it has a very thinly related context to this open letter? It’s also pretty poorly sourced, and mice vexingly, appears to have disregarded the necessity for the scientific rigour theology studies usually entail, and has a clear bias against traditional values of Christian relationships.

      • noel

        Some theologians think “traditional values of Christian relationships” are as Knust argues not sustainable from the Bible only if you cherrypick. Some conservative Christians have tried shock therapy or prayer to “cure”gays and it often results in the suicide of many young people

  • Aaron

    Nowhere does Shorten say that ALL objectors to marriage equality are haters, bigots and homophobes. With respect Minister, what you fail to realise is that while you may not be a bigot, hater or homophobe, your stance on this issue puts you squarely in the same camp as people who are, whether you like it or not. Your view may be grounded in religious belief, however many objectors to marriage equality do so simply because they are ignorant and would seek to damage the LGBTI community.

    It is sad but true that the Australian media would, in the lead up to a plebiscite, give a greater voice to this group of people than they would to people like yourself who might disagree on religious grounds. This will fuel hate, in the same way that Pauline Hanson’s recent election has done, and cause unnecessary damage to social cohesion.

    The Church doesn’t own the concept of marriage, it is a human right. I think you would be surprised Minister how many within your own Church agree.