"Treating people who believe in the traditional understanding of marriage as proponents of bigotry or hate-speech is beneath our country," the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, said yesterday.
Archbishop Fisher was responding to public comments suggesting that opponents of same-sex marriage would use the proposed plebiscite to conduct campaigns of intimidation towards gay and lesbian people.
"Reasonable disagreement does not equal hate. Offering people the chance to express their views on the definition of marriage at the ballot box does not equal hate. Financially assisting the putting of fair cases for both sides before a vote does not equal hate.
"We are a respectful and intelligent nation. The Australian people must be allowed to have their say on this issue and the government needs to ensure that a well-informed and balanced debate can take place."
"The causes of poor mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and suicide are complex and require serious study and compassionate treatment," the Archbishop added.
"It is far too important an issue in our community and we should not play politics with mental health."