October 12th 2013

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Articles from this issue:

ENVIRONMENT: IPCC report ignites new row over global warming

MARRIAGE: Same-sex marriage: is it harmless?

TASMANIA: Labor premier and Greens to legalise medicalised killing

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Tony Abbott's first major test: stopping the boats

EDITORIAL: The Abbott government gets down to work...

OPINION: Why Australia should acquire US-built nuclear submarines

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Challenges loom after Angela Merckel's election win

POPULATION: China may be too late to avert demographic disaster

POLITICAL IDEAS: Replacing agribusinesses with family farms

LIFE ISSUES: Culture of death and our missing moral compass

HISTORY: How King Alfred's reputation fell victim to political correctness

OPINION: David Marr and the white whale

CULTURE: How television can stupefy or stimulate our minds

BOOK REVIEW A rogues' gallery

BOOK REVIEW Intellectual rivals

Books promotion page

Same-sex marriage: is it harmless?

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, October 12, 2013

Same-sex marriage fundamentally changes not only the legal definition of marriage, but all the social, educational, economic, legal and religious institutions that service and support marriage, family and children.

Yet, the lobby pushing for redefining marriage argues that same-sex marriage does no harm to anyone else, so it should be legalised.

In the Australian Capital Territory there is a same-sex marriage bill before the legislative assembly, and in New South Wales a similar bill is planned.

These bills are proceeding despite the federal parliament’s decisive vote last year against redefining marriage, and despite such legislation being inconsistent with the Commonwealth of Australia’s Marriage Act.

Schools: If marriage is redefined in law, it would be legal to teach same-sex marriage, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual issues in schools.

The Australian Education Union’s policy declares that “homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and intersex need to be normalised” in education.[1]

In 2006, the NSW Attorney-General’s Department produced a Learn to Include Teachers Manual for primary schools. It provides a range of resources for teaching about same-sex parents in primary schools.

Advisors for the project included the Lesbian Health Project Officer, ACON Western Sydney; NSW Anti-Homophobia Interagency; the Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood, University of Melbourne; Education & Health Promotion Programs, Unit Family Planning Association Health (NSW); NSW Anti-Homophobia Interagency; and the NSW Teachers’ Federation.[2]

After same-sex marriage was legalised in California USA, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act 2011 (also known as the FAIR Education Act 2011) was passed. It was co-sponsored by the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Network and Equality California.

This law requires the teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history in California schools.[3]

Children: Same-sex marriage will greatly affect future children. Not only will it result in more children being born of donor conception and surrogacy, but the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual (GLBT) lobby is campaigning to have the birth certificates of children adopted by same-sex couples to be changed to record the same-sex couple in place of the biological parents.[4]

Already, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby offers online advice about lesbian parenting laws in NSW. It’s “Q&A” section answers the question, “How do I get a new birth certificate for my child with our names on it?”[5]

A Sydney district court ruled in 2011 that a man who acted as a sperm donor to a lesbian couple had “no contractual right” to be on the birth certificate of his biological daughter.[6]

The Australian Human Rights Commission has recommended — in the interest of same-sex parents — that birth certificates should be open to recording any of the “birth mother, birth father, lesbian co-mother or gay co-father”.[7]

This stands in contrast to Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which says: “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”[8]

While the GLBT lobby wants to replace biological parents’ names on birth certificates with the names of same-sex partners (“psychological” parents), there have been three inquiries into the rights of donor-conceived children to know their “biological” origins. These inquires were conducted by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry (2011),[9] the Victorian Law Reform Commission (2012)[10] and the NSW Legislative Assembly (2012).[11]

All three inquiries recommended that donor-conceived children should have a right to access their biological mother/father.

Businesses will also be affected by same-sex marriage, particularly those associated with wedding services — photographers, caterers, function hire places — and bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Same-sex marriage law greatly increases the reach of anti-discrimination law.

Elaine Huguenin

In the U.S. state of New Mexico, where same-sex marriage is legal, the state’s supreme court last month found photographer Elaine Huguenin guilty under the New Mexico Human Rights Act of refusing to provide her services to a lesbian couple’s wedding.[12]

Two weeks after legislators in the U.S. state of Oregon passed a same-sex marriage law, a local maker of old-fashioned wedding trolleys was forced to shut down his business after being hounded by the GLBT lobby for refusing to supply a lesbian wedding function, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The paper noted, “Wedding vendors elsewhere who refused to accommodate same-sex couples have faced discrimination lawsuits — and lost.”[13]

Churches will gain only temporary exemptions from involvement in same-sex marriages, at best.

Less than two weeks after same-sex marriage was signed into UK law, a lawsuit was lunched against a Church of England parish for refusing a wedding ceremony for two gay men.[14]

Last year, over 30 GLBT and rights groups told an inquiry into proposed consolidation of anti-discrimination acts that there should be no exemptions, or only minimal exemptions, for churches and schools.[15]

Furthermore, in 2012 six ALP senators presented a dissenting report against the Senate inquiry recommending a same-sex marriage bill. These included Senators Mark Furner, Ursula Stephens, Helen Polley, Alex Gallagher, Catryna Bilyk, Mark Bishop, Glenn Sterle.

In commenting on the bill’s exemptions clauses for the churches, to ensure that “ministers of religion will not be compelled to solemnise same-sex marriages”, the six ALP senators said: “While churches remain at the mercy of legislation for such protection, it does not guarantee this protection, as events in Denmark and Scotland in recent times have shown. Denmark has passed legislation to compel churches to officiate at same-sex ceremonies and Scotland is considering same-sex marriage with no church exemption.

“In addition to churches and ministers remaining at the mercy of the government of the day, church-run schools could be subject to anti-discrimination laws as to what they can teach on the subject of marriage.”[16]

Patrick J. Byrne is national vice-president of the National Civic Council. A shorter version of this article appeared in the printed edition of News Weekly.


[1] Australian Education Union (AEU), Policy on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People, as adopted at the AEU’s 2006 annual federal conference.
URL: www.aeuvic.asn.au/gay_lesbian_bisexual_transgender_and_intersex_people_2006.pdf

[2] Learn to Include Teachers Manual: Learn to Include Educational Series Teaching and Learning about Diverse Families in a Primary School Setting. Editor: Vicki Harding (Sydney: NSW Attorney-General’s Department, 2006).
URL: www.dialog.unimelb.edu.au/lesbian/pdf/Learn to Include teachers manual.pdf

[3] Make History at Your School with the FAIR/unFAIR Toolkit! (San Francisco, California: Gay-Straight Alliance Network, 2009).
URL: www.gsanetwork.org/printpdf/608

FAIR Education Act: LGBTQ-Inclusive Lessons (San Francisco, California: Gay-Straight Alliance Network, 2009).
URL: www.gsanetwork.org/FAIR/lessons

[4] LGBTI Rights/Same-Sex Relationship Recognition Summary Table, in “LGBT rights in Australia”, Wikipedia, as of September 23, 2013.
URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Australia

[5] Lesbian Parenting Laws in NSW, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW), 2012.
URL: http://glrl.org.au/index.php/Rights/Parenting/New-Lesbian-Parenting-Laws

[6] Amy Dale, “Donor is young girl’s dad no more as lesbian wins court battle”, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), August 18, 2011.
URL: www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/donor-is-young-girls-dad-no-more-as-lesbian-wins-court-battle/story-e6freuzi-1226117050635

[7] Same-Sex: Same Entitlements: National Inquiry into Discrimination against People in Same-Sex Relationships: Financial and Work-Related Entitlements and Benefits (Sydney: Australian Human Rights Commission, May 2007), p.107.
URL: www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/human_rights/samesex/report/pdf/SSSE_Report.pdf

[8] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
URL: www.unicef.org/crc/

[9] Donor Conception Practices in Australia, Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry (Canberra: Parliament of Australia, 2011).
URL: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Completed%20inquiries/2010-13/donorconception/report/index

[10] Inquiry in Access of Donor-Conceived People into Information about Donors (Melbourne: Victorian Law Reform Commission, 2012).
URL: www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lawreform/article/1468

[11] The Inclusion of Donor Details on the Register of Birth. Inquiry by the NSW Legislative Assembly’s Law and Safety Committee (Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales, 2012).
URL: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/7E4018E851966190CA25792D0017F32F

[12] Ted Olson, “New Mexico Supreme Court: Photographers can’t refuse gay weddings”, Christianity Today, August 22, 2013.
URL: www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/august/nm-supreme-court-photographers-cant-refuse-gay-weddings.html

[13] Eric Cox, “Opposed to same-sex marriage, company ends wedding business”, Baltimore Sun, December 25, 2012.
URL: www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2972475/posts

[14] Hilary White, “‘I am still not getting what I want’: Gay couple suing church for refusing ‘wedding’,” LifeSiteNews.com, August 2, 2013.
URL: www.lifesitenews.com/news/i-am-still-not-getting-what-i-want-gay-couple-suing-church-for-refusing-wed/

[15] Patrick J. Byrne, “Push for new laws to attack churches, schools”, News Weekly, May 26, 2012.
URL: www.newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=5191&s=FUGWcM

[16]Dissenting report by individual Labor senators (including Mark Furner, Ursula Stephens, Helen Polley, Alex Gallagher, Catryna Bilyk, Mark Bishop, Glenn Sterle), dated June 6, 2012, for Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010.

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