Two people and a message

WHILE the marriage equality debate is still very much in flux within Australia’s Anglican church, St Paul’s in Beaconsfield has taken a firm and slightly controversial position to embrace it.

Parishioner and artist Kim Kemp recently emblazoned the church hall on Hampton Road with a rainbow mural, but more significantly, the Herald has heard priest Peter Humphris has tinkered with the vows at some marriages.

Mr Humphris wouldn’t confirm or deny whether he’d occasionally changed the church’s mandated text to join “these two people” in marriage rather than a man and a woman; only responding: “I look forward to being able to conduct gay marriages at St Paul’s.”

He says marriage equality is “inevitable” and is frustrated by the fact it’s still being debated by the church hierarchy.

Ms Kemp agrees, saying unless the denomination modernises it will alienate young people and suffer emptier pews.

• St Paul’s parish priest Peter Humphris and artist Kim Kemp are ready to embrace equal marriage. Photo by Steve Grant

Significantly, her mural contains a budgie looking away from the rainbow, a reference to former prime minister Tony Abbott, who still holds great power within the Liberal party and recently declared equal marriage a “war on our way of life”.

“He just won’t go away,” Ms Kemp says.

If Mr Humphris has changed the text, it could have significant consequences, as he’s licensed to conduct marriages as laid out by the Anglican church, which forbids altering the marriage preface. If his superiors do take issue with it, he could find himself in hot water.

Perth’s first female Anglican archbishop, Kay Goldsworthy, is supportive of equal marriage, but won’t challenge the church’s stated position.

“The Anglican church’s position is that in Australia marriage is between a man and a woman,” she told the Guardian shortly after her appointment was announced last year.

“One man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life.”

Equal Love WA is also promoting the “yes” campaign ahead of a national survey, which is going ahead after the High Court dismissed several challenges on Thursday.

EL is holding a rally and festival on Pioneer Park opposite the Fremantle train station today, Saturday September 9 from 1 – 3pm. There’s a heap of musos performing, including Western Kinsmen of the Sun, Spacey Jane, Rainbow Revolt and Ella Munro, and a strategy meeting afterwards.

by STEVE GRANT

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