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Australia: Christian school’s students react angrily to anti-gay-marriage lobby letter

Facebook page in support of same-sex marriage garners more than 1,000 likes

ACT's attorney-general, Tony Corbell, introduced a gay-marriage bill in the Legislative Assembly Sept 19. Credit: australianmarriageequality.com

After the principal of Canberra’s Trinity Christian School sent an anti-gay-marriage letter to parents, current and former students turned to Facebook to register their support for same-sex marriage, according to a Canberra Times report.

The letter from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) urges parents to lobby against a gay marriage bill that was introduced in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Sept 19, saying they “should not acquiesce by remaining silent.”  

In forwarding the letter from the ACL, Trinity Christian School principal Andrew Clayton states in an accompanying email that this is not a “usual practice” for him but he believes it’s an “appropriate response given the potential this bill has to impact the very nature of our school.”

In response, former student Michael Mazengarb, who says the letter’s message is inappropriate, created a Facebook page titled Trinity Christian School Students and Alumni for Marriage Equality, which has garnered more than 1,000 “likes.”

“A lot of people contacted me — friends and former students — expressing their disappointment [in the letter],” Mazengarb told the Times. “A lot of people thought that it went beyond the role of a principal.”

A recent post on the Facebook page reads, “This paged started off as a group of students taking a stand against what they thought was an outdated attitude of their school. It has turned into a massive expression of support for who may find themselves in a situation where they are afraid to be open about their sexuality. It doesn't matter what school you go to, or who you fall in love with, there is a community of people who support you. Thank You. We have been noticed.”

Following the ACT’s introduction of the gay marriage bill, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the federal government is seeking advice about whether the territory’s move is constitutional.

Asked by media if he’s hoping the legislation will be blocked, Abbott didn’t give a direct answer but said that under the law, the Commonwealth is responsible for marriage.

ACT’s chief minister, Katy Gallagher, who recently said she didn’t expect Abbott’s newly elected federal coalition government to stop the bill, says her government believes the bill is constitutional and that the ACT has the “ability to legislate.”

Gallagher notes that there is “overwhelming support” for the measure in the community.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the bill is expected to make it through the 17-member ACT Assembly with support from all Labor legislators and the sole Greens member. The ACT’s opposition leader, Jeremy Hanson, says the Canberra Liberals will not support the bill, arguing in part that it’s “just simply not the job of the ACT Assembly to be determining what is clearly controversial, national social reform.”