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Magda Szubanski Fires Up Over Religion's Possessive Hold On Marriage

The popular actor took aim at the church having a say in the civil domain.

23/10/2017 11:33 PM AEDT | Updated 23/10/2017 11:46 PM AEDT
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Australian TV icon and comedian Magda Szubanski slammed an Anglican Archbishop on Monday night over the religious influences she believes churches wield on the "civil domain" when it comes to the idea of marriage.

Appearing on the ABC's 'Q&A' program as part of a special edition focused on the current same-sex marriage debate, Szubanski took aim at the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, for imposing his traditional idea of marriage -- which he described as "God's design for all people" -- on those who choose to marry outside of the Church.

"I'm not a religious authority, I'm less of an atheist than people would think. 74.9% of people in Australia get married outside the Church. Now, I accept that the Church will never marry me -- that grieves me in ways you will never know," she said.

"I'm the one in my family when I buried my parents I organised every detail of the requiem masses, I wrote the orders of service, I put the pall over my mother's coffin. Now I accept that the Catholic Church will never marry me but you won't even let me marry outside the Church.

"Why is it your right to determine -- fair enough in your domain you do what you like -- we live in a live and let live society I don't want to tell anyone else what to do. Why should you have the right to tell me or any other person, straight or gay, what they do in the civil domain? That's not your domain."

The popular actor's criticism of Davies came as the 'Q&A' conversation had turned towards particular wording in the Bible about the concept of marriage being solely between a man and a woman and whether that can now be seen as "outdated".

In his opinion, Davies told the audience that he believes that "Jesus' words continue to have power and influence and authority today" -- particularly in relation to the Bible passage Matthew 19 and the idea of marriage being solely for heterosexual couples.

"Matthew 19 -- the question is about divorce but Jesus answers the question in terms of a definition of marriage. He goes back to Genesis 2:24 in regards to what marriage is," he said.

"I believe that Jesus' words continue to have power and influence and authority today. Until the Lord returns... In the end I'm a Churchman, a follower of Jesus and I'm bound and delight in telling people about him and helping people understand [that] God's design for marriage is for all people.

"It's not just for Christians like a sacramental marriage but marriage is God's design for all people. In that regard, I want to propose that to the Australian nation. I do not want to coerce. That's not my job."

On the opposite side of the 'Q&A' panel Jesuit priest and law professor Frank Brennan opposed Davies' view, saying that his reading of the religious and civil standpoints on the marriage debate is to separate the two concepts completely and to see same-sex marriage as a legal issue.

"I believe in my church in the dogma of the sacramentality of marriage and yes, I believe Magda cannot have a sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church," he said.

"But equally, I as a human rights lawyer, believe she can have a civil marriage in Australia and I actually think God would be happy with that -- so that's the difference.

"Yes, there will be Catholics who will say, 'no, I would vote no to anything, even about the civil law,' but in terms of the question of the civil law I see it as quite a different question from that about the dogma within the Church."

The exchange comes after it was confirmed that ten million same-sex marriage surveys have been returned to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), with just over a fortnight left before all responses need to be received by the government body.

And while that sounds positive, tensions remain high between advocates of either side of the marriage equality debate, with the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney saying religious believers would be vulnerable to discrimination suits and career losses if same-sex marriage is legalised.

Further to that, tens of thousands of marriage equality supporters rallied on streets around the country over the weekend as part of a National Equality Weekend to voice their support for a 'Yes' vote. Crowds of more than 20,000 people in Sydney were also followed up by public showings in Melbourne, Brisbane, Alice Springs, Hobart, Coolangatta, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin and Canberra.

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