Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has declared that he has changed his mind about gay marriage.
Reported first by CLEO magazine online, Rudd wrote on his own website last night that:
“I have come to the conclusion that church and state can have different positions and practices on the question of same sex marriage. I believe the secular Australian state should be able to recognise same sex marriage.
“I also believe that this change should legally exempt religious institutions from any requirement to change their historic position and practice that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.
The change is a somewhat surprising one from Rudd, who is a religious man and has previously been very conservative about the issue of same sex marriage.
Rudd explained that he had changed his mind after long discussions with friends and family, including daughter Jessica who wrote an article urging for policy change on the issue in this month’s CLEO magazine.
The Labor Party has agreed to give its members a free vote on same sex marriage, which will come before the parliament next week. And this move by Rudd will no doubt increase pressure on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to also do an about-face on the issue of same sex marriage.
The otherwise socially progressive Gillard has surprised many by remaining staunch in her belief that marriage should remain exclusively between a man an a woman.
Adam Bandt will introduce a Bill into parliament next week that will seek to amend the Marriage Act to permit people of the same sex to have their unions recognised under that law. At this stage it remains unlikely that the Bill will pass, given that the Coalition are requiring their members to vote against it.
The same sex marriage issue appears to be one where the parliament is very much out of step with the majority of the community. Surveys consistently show that the majority of Australians support the rights of same sex couples to marry.
In the same blog post Kevin Rudd write about the theology and morality of same sex marriage. He examines its history and the changing views of Christians over time, on the issue. He continues, saying that:
“I for one have never accepted the argument from some Christians that homosexuality is an abnormality. People do not choose to be gay. The near universal findings of biological and psychological research for most of the post war period is that irrespective of race, religion or culture, a certain proportion of the community is born gay, whether they like it or not.
“Given this relatively uncontested scientific fact, then the following question that arises is should our brothers and sisters who happen to be gay be fully embraced as full members of our wider society?
“The answer to that is unequivocally yes, given that the suppression of a person’s sexuality inevitably creates far greater social and behavioural abnormalities, as opposed to its free and lawful expression.
You can read Kevin Rudd’s full statement here.
You can read some of what Jessica Rudd had to say on the issue here.