Bill Shorten Had A Tense Exchange With An Anglican Priest About Same-Sex Marriage

The priest has previously linked same-sex unions to polygamy.

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The debate about same-sex marriage in Australia and the Turnbull government’s proposed plebiscite isn’t as simple as being for or against the measure. Now both sides are being challenged as to the reasons why they oppose or support the plebiscite in ways that are more complex than ‘do the opposite of the other team’.

Today Bill Shorten was informed that some people who oppose same-sex unions aren’t necessarily the “bigoted haters” that he has described them to be (well, in their own view anyway). Shorten has been a vocal advocate for same-sex marriage, and a staunch opposer of the planned plebiscite. In a strange moment that was thankfully captured on film, Shorten and Anglican priest Rector Ian Powell had a terse discussion about the language Shorten has used to describe opponents to same-sex marriage.

“You described people who weren’t in favour of changing the definition of marriage as ‘haters who come out from under rocks’. Can I ask you not to speak like that? Because I know lots of people like that,” Powell says.

“Please don’t speak like that about other Australians, so we can have a civil and tolerant discussion rather than the hate that’s been coming.”

Shorten was shaken, but was pretty firm in saying that some people who oppose the measure genuinely are bigots. It should be noted that in 2015 Rector Powell previously linked same-sex marriage to polygamy, so it’s unclear how “civil and tolerant” he genuinely wants the debate to be.

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Powell’s 2015 speech, which was titled: “Same sex marriage and Jesus of Nazareth – are they friends or foes?”, asked how “plural marriage” could be resisted if same-sex marriage came in. “Frankly, it cannot be resisted,” he said. “And when people say it’s not even going to come to the table they’re just … they’re either ignorant or fibbing because we know from all around the world it is.”

At this stage, it’s looking like the plebiscite might happen early next year — unless of course the Greens follow through with their plan to block the legislation and Labor joins them.