Gay marriage forum year on

Church representatives were questioned about gay rights at a forum in Dunedin last night marking a year this month since marriage equality law passed.

The Presbyterians, Anglicans, Catholics, and Methodists fronted for the forum, organised by Otago University Students' Association queer support officer Neill Ballantyne.

It was jointly hosted by the University of Otago Centre for Theology and Public Issues and OUSA Queer Support.

The Bishop of Dunedin, the Rt Rev Dr Kelvin Wright, said gay marriage was a ''non-issue'' for him, but there remained division of opinion among Anglicans.

The Anglicans were working through a process to allow parts of the church to disagree on the issue without causing division.

The Methodists had moved on after agonising greatly over the issue, Methodist minister and university chaplain the Rev Greg Hughson said.

He hoped the Methodists could be a model for others, like the Presbyterians, and Anglicans, on how to resolve it.

The Rev Dr Bruce Hamill said the Presbyterian church needed to rethink its position, which upheld a conservative view of marriage.

Dr Hamill, who convenes a church group on doctrinal matters, said his personal view was that those supporting gay rights were more in keeping with the values of Jesus.

Fr Mark Chamberlain said the Roman Catholics remained opposed to gay marriage.

''In the Catholic tradition, it's not possible for marriage to be widened beyond a man and a woman.

''That's something that's unthinkable for the Catholic tradition.''

A questioner asked Fr Chamberlain why the church was not shifting on gay marriage, when it was softening in other areas. Fr Chamberlain said the church was not changing.

Forum organiser Mr Ballantyne said that as a gay Christian he found church attitudes disappointing.

It was not enough to be ''middle of the road'' on the issue.

Churches must take a lead advocating gay rights, including petitioning countries which still actively discriminated against gay people.

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