AN Albury religious leader said he feels a sense of camaraderie after a senior Anglican cleric declared that same-sex marriage in Australia was on the horizon.
Wangaratta Bishop and former barrister, John Parkes, is one of the first in the country to go public in admitting a change to the Marriage Act allowing couples of the same gender to marry will inevitably happen.
He went on the record last week to say that the act wasn't against the bible.
He has been labelled “a hero” by Father Peter MacLeod-Miller from St Matthew's Church.
“It's the most marvellous news and I am deeply grateful to the Bishop,” Father MacLeod-Miller said.
“The thing I love about the Bishop is the easy thing would be for him to keep quiet. I love the fact that I have a boss who stands up for love - that is inspiring.
“Although I don't think he is the first Bishop. The first was Bishop John McIntyre from Gippsland, but he died a year ago.
“When he stood up at the time, he was absolutely hounded.
“People had a hatred of gay people and I think knowing that, it's even braver of Bishop John Parkes to stand up because he knows he is not in for a party.
“Whenever people stand up for a minority - that is almost always the case.”
Father MacLeod-Miller told of how he had been cornered in the supermarket by a man who claimed to “beat up” same-sex couples.
He has received a significant amount of backlash since he came out in support of marriage equality.
But after talking to the man, he said he thinks all humans desire the same thing.
“I spoke to this man and found out he had issues growing up and all he needed was love and acceptance,” he said.
“I've had some of my peers write to the Bishop suggesting I be silenced.”
Father MacLeod-Miller said knowing that there had been a negative public response from some corners of the community meant that it was a “bold move” by the Bishop to go public.
“He is very brave indeed,” he said.
“It’s fascinating to think he is from regional Australia, he is not from Sydney or Melbourne.
“We have such an awareness of mental health issues in our area and acceptance can be a matter of life and death for young people.
“I've had letters from young people saying it is so important to speak up on this because it is about acceptance.
“It should not be controversial - but the tragedy is that it is.”