My good friend Chris Berg sets out the arguments in an op-ed in The Age:
To be offended by the booklet is to be offended by what was, until very recently, the mainstream view on gay marriage, and one still shared by a large minority of the population.
For this reason if nothing else, the complaint ought to have been dismissed as laughably frivolous. But this month the commission decided that the Catholic Church has a case to answer under Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act.
But the Tasmanian case is worse than that.
To make the argument for heterosexual marriage is to make an argument for the law of the land as it currently stands. To make the argument for the law of land as introduced in 2004 and reaffirmed by a vote in the national parliament as recently as 2012. The issue is now so controversial that the Federal Parliament has decided to abrogate all responsibility for marriage and to allow a plebiscite on the matter. Yet a State government – that has absolutely no constitutional authority in the matter – has decided the issue already. At least the unelected bureaucrats of that State government have decided the matter already.
The message is clear – anyone who wants to argue against same-sex marriage and for the current law of the land in a federal plebiscite will be prosecuted under State government laws. Sounds crazy? It is crazy. Why has the federal government not challenged the Tasmanian legislation in the High Court? It seems to me that this is a very straight forward challenge to the federal Parliament’s ability to make laws under the constitution.
The situation is complicated by the fact that I think the Federal Parliament should legislate to allow same-sex marriage, and if it came to a plebiscite that I suspect an overwhelming majority of Australians would vote “yes”. That shouldn’t change the general principle that Australians have the right to support the current laws of the land without being harassed by government – any government, or its minions. Indeed Australians have a duty to uphold the current laws of the land – as does the executive government.
Update: Tim Wilson makes much the same point:
The views of the booklet also reflect Australia’s marriage law.