May 9th 2015

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Defence minister commits to future of naval shipbuilding

CANBERRA OBSERVED Labor's deputy leads party to dead end

SOCIETY Christianity the cornerstone of democratic values

CULTURE World war to social media: how we were secularised

SOCIETY Greens' euthanasia push dead in the water

EDITORIAL Behind the latest push to redefine marriage

ECONOMICS Mainstream squabbles: much ado about nothing

CINEMA The heroism of healing: plus robots: Big Hero 6

THE ENVIRONMENT Busting the 'ocean acidification' myth

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Advancing Indonesia should abolish death penalty

EDUCATION Taking Australian history out of the curriculum

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY Thomas Playford: ideology no barrier to development

EUROPE Greek tragedy takes another twist

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Atheists purge Christians in US armed forces

BOOK REVIEW Extraordinary operation by Special Ops

BOOK REVIEW Presumed Guilty, by Bret Christian

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Behind the latest push to redefine marriage

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, May 9, 2015

Forty years ago, the Australian Parliament carried by the narrowest margin a law which fundamentally changed the nature of marriage in Australia. The Family Law Act was deeply divisive at the time because it fundamentally changed the nature of marriage from one which was intended to last for life, to one which could be terminated by either party on two years’ notice.

There have been several subsequent inquiries into this act, but none has considered reversing the central purpose of the act; which was to make divorce easy and inevitable. The social consequences of this legislation continue to do untold damage, not only to women and children – usually the innocent victims of this law – but more broadly to society, because it has weakened one of its key institutions.

A little over 10 years ago, the Marriage Act was amended in Australia to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, bringing the law into conformity with the understanding which has existed in every society in recorded history.

Until then, the Marriage Act did not explicitly define marriage because at the time it was drafted, everyone understood what marriage was. But it became necessary to include the definition because the campaign by the homosexual lobby to redefine marriage as the union of any two people, regardless of gender, had been successful in several countries overseas.

The 2004 amendments to the Marriage Act were carried unanimously by both houses of Federal Parliament. But the homosexual lobby, organised around Australian Marriage Equality (AME), was determined to reverse it.

They successfully lobbied the ALP to reverse its policy and, after Labor was elected to government in alliance with the Greens, legislation to amend the Marriage Act was introduced but was decisively defeated in both houses. Despite this, repeated attempts have been made to introduce legislation at state level and in the ACT, but not one has been successful.

Since the last federal election, a senator representing the libertarian Liberal Democrats has moved yet another bill to change the Marriage Act.

Separately, Labor’s deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, has announced that at the ALP National Conference later this year she will move to tighten the party’s policy in support of “same-sex marriage” by preventing Labor MPs exercising a conscience vote on the issue.

As Federal Parliament has recently voted on this issue, these attempts to amend the Marriage Act are fundamentally undemocratic.

No doubt the proponents of change are influenced by the fact that the US Supreme Court is currently considering a constitutional challenge which if successful would force all American states to legalise “same sex marriage”.

Yet, when the matter has been put to the American people by referendum, a clear majority has voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

In a submission to the US Supreme Court, the chairman of the National Organisation for Marriage, Professor Frank Eastman, pointed out that an overwhelming majority of Americans had, over the past decade, voted to retain the long-standing, biologically rooted understanding of the institution of marriage.

He wrote: “The numbers are staggering, though you won’t see them reported in the nation’s major newspapers.

“The issue has been on the ballot in 39 state-wide elections in 35 different states. The cumulative total: 51,483,777 votes in favour of retaining the man-woman definition of marriage, versus 33,015,412 votes in favour of same-sex marriage.

“That’s a vote margin of 60.93 per cent to 39.07 per cent; a landslide in American politics.”

Professor Eastman pointed out that the opinion polls which seem to show overwhelming support for “same sex marriage” use a variety of techniques designed to produce that particular response.

These include positive response bias (that is, phrasing the question so that the “yes” answer yields the preferred response); multiple-issue questions (to encourage a positive response even if there is agreement with only part of the question); and “priming” (to lay the groundwork for the preferred response).

He described the opinion polls as “severely flawed”.

Similar claims that there is a global shift towards “same-sex marriage” are simply untrue. Despite changes to the law in many (but not all) countries in Western Europe and in parts of North America, not one country in Asia has adopted “same-sex marriage”, only one in all of Africa, and only three in Latin America.

Current marriage law in Australia reflects the position taken across most of the world, and reflects the wisdom and experience of all mankind. There is absolutely no reason to change.

Because the US Supreme Court is deeply divided between “black letter” lawyers and left-liberals, there is no legal reason why a court decision in the US should have any influence on Australia. But the media will insist otherwise.

Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

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