February 17th 2007

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: The Qantas buyout - how to avoid tax

SCHOOLS: Education or political indoctrination?

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Eight months for Howard to claw his way back

WATER: PM puts water on the agenda, but ...

BUSHFIRES: Fuel-reduction burn-offs needed - ACT Coroner

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Double double, toil and trouble / Choosing a new battlefield / Immigration mess / A fire sale for DFAT?

INTELLIGENCE CORNER: The next socialist Shangri-La / Downplaying the Islamist threat / Beware the Bear

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Pakistan feels jilted by US-India nuclear deal

SPECIAL FEATURE: The legacy of B.A. Santamaria

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: Rights and wrongs in relationship recognition

PREGNANCY COUNSELLING: Health Minister Abbott's initiative attacked

OPINION: My unhappy memories of Julia

SCIENCE: WA bid to host $2 billion radio telescope

Milton Friedman let off far too lightly (letter)

Free-market capitalism and Christianity (letter)

The enemy in our midst (letter)

Nativity film defended (letter)

CINEMA: Heroism amidst inhumanity - Blood Diamond

CINEMA: Enchanting story for all ages - Miss Potter

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Those with superior intelligence need to learn to be wise

BOOKS: TREASON IN TUDOR ENGLAND: Politics and Paranoia, by Lacey Baldwin Smith

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Rights and wrongs in relationship recognition

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, February 17, 2007
Bill Muehlenberg warns that the battle to preserve marriage in Australia is far from over, as various state Labor governments attempt to establish alternative "relationship registers".

Homosexuals continue to demand special rights. The simple truth, however, is that, as individuals, homosexuals already enjoy all the rights and benefits that others do.

It is when the issue of relationships arises, that the subject needs to be more carefully examined. Activist homosexuals are demanding that their relationships be given the same treatment and considerations as married couples.

But this is where society should draw the line. The reason why married couples get certain social and legal benefits that other relationships do not is because of the great advantages married couples have over other couples, and the great contributions they make to society.

The short way of putting it is this: societies grant special benefits to married couples, because they confer special benefits upon society. It is that simple.

Other couples and types of relationships do not bestow the same benefits on society, and that is why societies have tended not to recognise those relationships, nor equate them with marriage relationships.

The benefits of married couples are mainly, but not exclusively, the bearing and raising of the next generation. While not every married couple will have children, exceptions do not make the rule. And the dual purposes of marriage throughout human history have always been the regulation of human sexuality and the creation and protection of the next generation.

The overwhelming weight of social science research has demonstrated what most human cultures have known instinctively throughout history: the best thing we can offer a child is his or her own biological mother and father, cemented by marriage. The research here is quite clear.

Yet adults are increasingly making demands about the kind of lifestyles they want, without considering the impact these will have on children or the rest of society. But the interests of the child and the greater community good should always be our top priority.

That in a nutshell is why we should not be granting governmental recognition of homosexual relationships.

Yet, surprisingly, some Christians want to grant same-sex couples special rights, and/or recognise their relationships as in a registration scheme. But this is not the right way to proceed.

One reason why we should avoid such traps became evident in the United Kingdom recently. There same-sex relationships have been recognised, and with the well-intentioned but uninformed support of some Christians. But the granting of special rights to some can also mean other people losing their rights. Or it can mean preferential treatment going to a less-deserving group, while arguably more deserving groups miss out.

The story is this: Two elderly sisters living together all their life have been denied by the European Court of Human Rights the right to receive the same inheritance tax benefits enjoyed by lesbian couples. As Gudrun Schultz discusses in LifeSiteNews.com (December 15, 2006), these sisters — who can claim to be much more of a family than two lesbians — have been prevented from receiving normal family benefits.

Recall that a family is any group of people related by blood, adoption or heterosexual marriage. Thus two sisters who have lived together for a lifetime would certainly qualify for special family benefits. But in our upside-down world, they cannot get access to these benefits while homosexuals can.

Gudrun Schultz comments: "Joyce and Sybil Burden argued that their claim to legal recognition was equally as convincing as lesbian couples, since they had lived together all of their lives — Joyce is 88 and Sybil is 80.

"Under the UK Civil Partnership Act introduced in 2004, same-sex couples registered as civil partners enjoy freedom from taxes on inheritance, on the death of one partner. The sisters wanted the same protection — their family home will have to be sold to pay the inheritance tax bill when one sister dies."

Said Joyce: "This government is always going out of its way to give rights to people who have done nothing to deserve them. If we were lesbians, we would have all the rights in the world. But we are sisters, and it seems we have no rights at all. It is disgusting that we are being treated like this. It is an insult."

Of course one should not be surprised at the EU making such a PC judgement. It has been pushing radical agendas for some time now, and it probably makes sense to them to give preferential treatment to homosexual couples over familial relationships.

Consider the rationale of the Court: "The EU Court, in a 4-3 ruling, said the sisters were not entitled to the same rights as homosexuals because they had not chosen to enter into a legal commitment — their relationship was simply the result of birth." Amazing!

As lawyer Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada put it, "Two sisters, or any sort of family relationship, is of enormous value to society. The family is the best health, education and welfare system we've got going. And yet to ignore that as being less than the homosexual or lesbian relationship is very offensive."

Changed dynamic

She continued: "Logically and consistently, once you've opened the door to relationships beyond heterosexual married couples — because of companionship and other benefits — you have to grant the same rights to everybody.

"You've changed the whole dynamic and purpose of legal marriage, which is procreation.

"We know that lesbian and homosexual couples are not equal to heterosexual married couples, because the purpose of the heterosexual union is of course procreation.

"That's the only relationship the State has a basic interest in — to promote and encourage the birth of children."

Quite so. But in a world where common sense becomes less and less common, and morality is constantly being thrown out the window, we can expect more such insanity to be foisted upon us.

— Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges.

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