Friday, July 1, 2011

In defence of traditional marriage: Post Script

This week, an email from the Canberra Declaration Team alerted me to the news that the Labor State Conference in Western Australia last weekend passed a resolution supporting homosexual marriage. The Western Australia ALP has joined the ALP state branches in South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory in supporting homosexual marriage including Victoria, which passed a motion supporting homosexual marriage in 2009. Personally, I think the Canberra Declaration crowd are a little too alarmist and reactionary to have a serious impact, but I share their concerns on this issue.

In response, I wrote the following letter to The Honorable Kevin Rudd, my State Member, and my other Parliamentary representatives.

Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010

Dear Sirs,

As a voter in your constituency, I appeal to you to do all you can to oppose the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010, and to retain current Federal Law.

I understand that current Federal Law defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. The Bill proposes to change the definition to the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life, thus opening up marriage to same-sex or non-gendered couples (1).

My opposition to this Bill does not, I sincerely hope, arise from a desire to unduly discriminate against persons of differing sexual orientation or gender identity. I believe that marriage understood as the enduring union of husband and wife is both a good in itself and also advances the public interest (2). I sincerely believe that the proposal to redefine marriage by Parliamentary Bill is not in the public interest, despite the high profile protestations of its advocates. I also believe that it is your job, as our representatives in Government, to defend and advance the public interest, even in the face of popular culture.

My primary reason for believing that traditional marriage (between one husband and one wife) is in the public interest is that the stable, loving and exclusive union between biological father and mother provides the optimum environment for raising children. The sociological evidence is overwhelming. The combined force of Mum and Dad cannot be adequately replaced by Mum and Mum, or Dad and Dad, no matter what the Bill's proponents say. Government ought to do all it can to protect the rights of children by upholding and strengthening marriage.

Further, I believe that the Bill discriminates against persons who, for whatever reason, believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. These reasons may be rationally thought out, or they may be more instinctive, but they will be repressed or even outlawed, if the Bill were passed. The worst examples of such discrimination have denied capable parents from fostering children (3), and have caused adoptive charities having to shut their doors (4). The Bill does not present a win-win outcome.

As it stands, the Bill does not even require a person in such a "marriage" to have a sexual orientation towards his or her spouse, which might yield some surprising outcomes with respect to conjugal rights.

If a recent survey in the UK is a reliable guide, we can expect about 1.5% of the population to self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual (5). I imagine that not all these people would be interested in marriage. This divisive Bill would therefore benefit a small minority of the population. I have to ask; at what cost?

At its heart, the Bill seeks to re-orientate marriage around a person's felt needs, but in so doing it fatally wounds marriage as the good and persistent social institution that has served and fostered the public interest for millennia. Our collective experience is that marriage is particularly good in serving the interests of children and women, and I believe it is so precisely because it presents men, especially, with something that's bigger and more important than their felt needs. The Bill attempts to force marriage into being what it is not. It is an ideological crusade that's not based on a sober consideration of the evidence.

One political campaign (for the Sex Party) ran the line "We believe the law should stay out of people's bedrooms". I agree, but the law has already been withdrawn from the bedroom. Why, then, seek to change the law on the basis of an ideological crusade?

Please oppose the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Jacobs


Reply from Kevin Rudd's Offce
Our ref: rlh:rlh_SR/Jun-11-0530
1 August, 2011

Mr Martin Jacobs
[Address given]

Dear Martin

Thank you for contacting Kevin with your concerns regarding same-sex marriage.

Kevin appreciates you taking the time to share your feedback.

As you are aware, the Government has recently supported an amended motion in Parliament. This motion calls upon Members to gauge the views of their constituents on equal treatment for gay couples, including marriage.

Currently, the Government’s position on same-sex marriage has not changed. The Government believes that the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act, that marriage is between man and woman, is appropriate and is part of standard Labor Party Policy.

Kevin understands same-sex marriage is an issue that many people in the community have strong opinions about. As it is the day-to-day job of Members of Parliament to engage with their constituents and gauge their opinions on important matters, Kevin believes that same-sex marriage should be included in these discussions.

Thank you once again for taking the time to share your views.

If there are any other federal government matters with which Kevin may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact his Electorate Office on [phone number given] or via email- [email given]

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Hansen, Constituent Officer
The Honourable Kevin Rudd MP
Federal Member for Griffith

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