MARRIAGE DEBATE: by Patrick J. ByrneNews Weekly
Media's reaction to 'child equality' election campaign
, September 14, 2013
A leaflet campaign across a number of east coast electorates defending marriage and children’s rights, organised by supporters of the Australian Family Association (AFA), attracted a strong media interest during the federal election.
The AFA has had a long-standing public policy supporting marriage, which is defined in Australian law as the union of one man and one woman entered into for life.
A leaflet targeting the suburban Melbourne
federal electorate of the Rudd Labor government’s
Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, QC, MP.
AFA Victorian president Terri Kelleher said that the organisation “supports ‘child equality’, the right of all children to know and be equally raised by their biological parents, to know their brothers, sisters, grandparents and family medical history”.
She continued: “The marriage of a man and a woman is the only institution that protects this inalienable right of children, as recognised and defined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“This is the only opportunity AFA supporters have to make their voice heard at a federal election by opposing MPs or candidates who want to redefine marriage and threaten the basic rights of children.
“Our supporters have organised their own campaigns,” said Mrs Kelleher.
The Australian (September 4) carried a picture of one of the flyers distributed in the Queensland seat of Moreton. It urged voters to put Labor’s Graham Perrett last, because he voted for a federal same-sex marriage bill in 2012.
Mr Gavan Duffy, who authorised the leaflet, told the paper that he organised the leaflet campaign because Kevin Rudd had made marriage an election issue.
Not only did Mr Rudd recently change his stand on the issue, he also promised that he would have another bill to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days should he be re-elected.
Fairfax media described similar leaflets distributed in the Victorian federal electorates of Ballarat and Indi as “emotive” and “controversial”, making the battle in several seats turn “nasty”.
Authoriser of the Ballarat pamphlet, local surgeon Frederick Denton, told the Ballarat Courier he was concerned about the push to redefine marriage, because “a child growing up needs a mother to develop their maternal side and a father as its male (role model)”.
He said: “Politicians are talking about the stolen generation but don’t realise they’re creating another stolen generation — children being brought up without a mother and father.…
“Schools would have to make it equal in their teachings too.... We see this in other countries that have legalised same-sex marriage.”
“Right now it is being promoted by a small and well-positioned minority.”
Marriage Equality’s Rodney Croome condemned the leaflets as stirring up a “fear campaign”.
Gay Star News (September 3. 2013) attacked the campaign as “homophobic” and criticised the leaflet for saying that same-sex marriage would lead to the teaching of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transsexual issues in schools and kindergartens.
In response, AFA spokesperson Terri Kelleher pointed out that if same-sex marriage is legalised, “then the Australian Education Union will be well placed to implement its sex education policy on gay and lesbian issues”.
The AEU curriculum policy, adopted in 2006, declared: “All curriculum should be written in non-heterosexist language. Sexuality should be included in all curriculums relating to health and personal development.
“Homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and intersex need to be normalised and all states need to develop material which will help to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
“Material must be developed for students who are GLBTI and also Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders or from a non-English speaking background.”
Peter Beattie, the ALP’s star candidate for the Queensland seat of Forde, said that Kevin Rudd’s support for gay marriage may have hurt the party’s vote in some key marginal seats, including his own.
Mrs Kelleher said that AFA supporters wanted to send a clear message to the next government to defend children’s rights, by telling the Coalition to stand firm on marriage.
Patrick J. Byrne is national vice-president of the National Civic Council.