Victoria abandons marriageby David PerrinNews Weekly
, May 19, 2001
David Perrin, Vice-President of the Australian Family Association, describes how Victoria's ALP Government and Liberal Party Opposition have joined together to dump the legal preference for marriage.
The Victorian Lower House of Parliament has now passed legislation to downgrade marriage.
With the support of ALP and Liberal MPs, the Statute Law Amendment Relationships Bill passed Parliament in the first week of May 2001.
The Bill with amendments will go to the Liberal Party-dominated Upper House shortly.
This legislation gives homosexual and de facto couples the same legal rights that in the past were only available to married couples.
Lobbying from the Family Council of Victoria to the Victorian Liberal MPs fell on deaf ears, with only one MP, Robert Clark (Box Hill), voting against the Bill, and another, Tony Plowman (Benambra), abstaining from the vote.
The Victorian National Party MPs voted with Independents Russell Savage (Mildura) and Craig Ingram (Gippsland East), as well as Robert Clark, against the legislation.
The Family Council of Victoria is the key pro-family group in Victoria. It includes as its members the Australian Family Association, Returned Services League, Endeavour Forum, the Saltshakers Christian lobby group, the Knights of the Southern Cross, the Christian Democratic Party, the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, the Islamic Council of Victoria, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Festival of Light, the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Waverley Christian Fellowship.
The major argument put forward by the Family Council was that marriage must be given preference because of its benefits to spouses, children, families and the community as a whole.
The scientific research presented to the MPs was that marriage had many benefits such as these:
1. Marriage lowers the risk that spouses will become victims of violence including domestic violence.
2. Married people live longer and happier lives.
3. Marriage boosts male earnings.
4. Married people manage money better, have fewer financial problems and build more wealth.
5. Marriage increases sexual fidelity e.g., cohabiting men are four times more likely to cheat than married men.
6. Married spouses are happier, less depressed, less anxious and less psychologically distressed.
7. Married spouses have better sex lives.
8. Married spouses have lower rates of suicide, drug abuse and alcoholism.
For children, the scientific evidence in favour of marriage is equally clear -
* Marriage leads to longer and healthier lives for children if parents get and stay married.
* Marriage strengthens the bonds between parents and children.
* Marriage provides lifelong family security.
* Marriage provides enhanced personal growth, social knowledge and transfer of life skills between generations.
* Children of intact marriages do better at school and at work.
The Family Council's support for the preference for marriage has recently been backed by the Vatican.
In November 2000, the Pontifical Council on the Family released a statement titled Family, Marriage and De Facto Unions. The statement claimed that it is not unjust to make legal benefits hinge on marriage, because married people have assumed the public legal obligations to each other, and to any children, of their union, that cohabitors have refused. To give marital rights to those who have refused marital responsibilities is unjust as well as imprudent.
The Vatican praised the commitment to permanence that married couples give to each other and their children and the benefits that marriage gives to the spouses, their children and the wider society.
In the past, politicians of all political persuasions have supported marriage, which is why they have given preference to married couples in recognition of their public commitment and the community benefits.
But the major political parties have listened to the homosexual lobby's insistence that this preference is discrimination when it has always been a reward for those that benefit the wider community.
These same politicians, both Liberal and ALP, have been quick to give rewards of taxpayer-funded childcare to working women, and to deny childcare funding to women who care for their children at home because they wish to disadvantage home care.
National Party leader in Victoria, Peter Ryan, clearly spelt out that the Nationals would not support the legislation because it would erode the status of marriage.
Since the defeat of the Kennett Government in Victoria, the Liberals and Nationals have split, allowing the National Party to establish itself as the party of the family and marriage.
However, it was the two Independents in the Victorian Lower House, who have led the way in the debate. As it was with the opposition to heroin injecting rooms, both Russell Savage and Craig Ingram were quick to understand that the issue in the legislation was whether married couples should be rewarded for their sacrifices in entering into a permanent relationship.
During the course of the debates in the Lower House, ALP and Liberal MPs congratulated each other, rarely stating the benefits of marriage and treating marriage as just one of a number of equal relationships deserving of the same benefits.
In the February 2001 edition of Crisis magazine, US social researcher Maggie Gallagher claims there is a war against marriage, with feminists, Marxists, population controllers and apostles of the sexual revolution joining together as allies against marriage. She claims that it is the goal of these groups to deinstutionalise marriage, by extending legal rights and benefits of marriage to more informal unions. This is exactly what the Victorian legislation does.
According to Gallagher, should marriage disappear as an institution, the harm to society would be immeasurable.
Cohabitators at best receive a small part of the benefits of marriage and in many cases they receive no benefit at all. Gallagher claims that there is virtually no evidence that living together is the functional equivalent of marriage.
More than 100 scholars, civic and religious leaders in the US, in a statement of principles issued in the middle of 2000 by the "Marriage Movement", urged Americans to strengthen marriage and reduce divorce and unmarried childbearing.
The Marriage Movement has its own internet web site available at www.marriagemovement.org.
They claim there are substantial taxpayer costs to divorce and childbearing out of wedlock. Social welfare blowout, charitable donations of food, foster care, special education, child support collections, crime control, domestic violence, drug abuse, and increased Medicare payments are all costs associated with a society that has downgraded marriage.
In the Summer 2000 issue of Family Law Quarterly author and legal scholar Harry Krause claims that "... marriage may not yet be history but it should be seen for what it has become: one lifestyle choice among many". Krause is calling for the wholesale abolition of marriage as a legal status in order to bring the law into line with his view of social reality.
With the major political parties in Victoria in agreement with the objective of treating marriage as just one of a competing number of relationships, is it any wonder that marriage is being undermined?
Peter Ryan believes that marriage is the core building block of society. He claims that party's number one core value is the family as a strong and stable society. He claims that there has been consistent erosion of the position of marriage over the years as society has changed, and that it is now time to draw a line in the sand.
With more and more voters less committed to the two major parties, Ryan can see that hard-pressed Victorians are turning to Independents to represent their views.
This is further reinforced by a Liberal Party advertisement earlier this year in a homosexual newspaper, featuring 20 state Liberal MPs claiming that they "Will Fight For You". Married couples now know that the Liberals (and ALP) are fighting against them.
With a Federal election due later this year, John Howard and Kim Beazley will be appealing to many married couple for their support.
Now that this war against marriage is out in the open, and Victoria will be a major battle ground for who will govern Australia, this undermining of marriage by Liberal and Labor will have a major impact on the way many people vote.
It is possible that pro-marriage and pro-family independents will increase their support by highlighting the lack of difference between the major parties, and offering a popular alternative. Married couples and those who support the institution of marriage are still a large majority in the community, so they can make a difference.