The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) welcomes the US Supreme Court's decision that marriage equality applies across that nation.

Of particular note was the majority finding that denial of marriage equality was inconsistent with the fundamental principle of "equality under the law". While Australia doesn't share the US Constitution, it certainly shares a similar principle as a keystone of our legal system and human rights framework.

Foreshadowed resistance to the decision by some US states, officials, and politicians – to cease issuing all marriage licences, to tie up implementation in "procedural matters", etc – has been nothing short of petulant and absurd. Much of it has been couched in terms of "religious freedom" – which in this case means the freedom to impinge on the legally confirmed rights of other humans.

If only Australia was immune from that type of petulance and machination.

In a similar vein, the AFA unequivocally condemns the Sydney Catholic Archdiocese's reported attempts to secretly strong-arm Australian businesses and organisations who have come out in public support of marriage equality.

Their letter (as published) issued none-too-veiled threats about the Archdiocese being "a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international", and reminds that "many of the Catholic population of Sydney would be your employees, customers, partners, suppliers".

It goes on to obliquely demand that those companies reconsider their public support for marriage equality on the spurious grounds of "over stepping their purpose". Has the purpose of religion suddenly become to achieve victory by whatever Machiavellian tools they can muster?

Lessons should have been learned from the society-wide revulsion at their hardball tactics against vulnerable abuse survivors, brought to light by the Child Abuse Royal Commission. Sadly, those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. The Catholic letter clearly comes across as yet another attempt by the church to unethically silence, bully and intimidate others for its own benefit. It seems that the mea culpas and protestations of rediscovered humility as a result of the Royal Commission revelations were completely hollow.

"After calling for attention via veiled threats, the letter attempts to blind with statistics, noting that Catholics are 26.7% of the area covered by the Sydney Archdiocese, and questioning whether support of marriage equality is really representative of each business' diverse stakeholders." commented AFA President Michael Boyd.

"They're deliberately ignoring this statistic: a 2014 Crosby-Textor poll found that 72% of Australians supported marriage equality, including 67% of Australians who identified as Catholic. And this poll was long before the moves towards marriage equality in Ireland and the US, which would be a positive influence here."

"So, the ones who are being 'unrepresentative' in this debate are the Catholic Church in general, and the Sydney Archdiocese specifically. In their mounting desperation to prevent marriage equality in Australia, they are not even representing the clear majority view of their own parishioners accurately, let alone wider Australian society."

The AFA applauds Maurice Blackburn and the Football Federation of Australia, who have both publicly stated that they will not be backing down on their support despite the Catholic Church's letter, and we call on other Australian businesses and organisations to follow suit.

Michael Boyd

Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595

Phone: (08) 8835 2269
Email: [email protected]

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