September 9th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Our unsafe schools are putting students at risk

EDITORIAL Turnbull needs a circuit breaker or he's a goner

CANBERRA OBSERVED 'What's the question?' is the crucial question

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing applauds jailing of Hong Kong activists

NATIONAL AFFAIRS The economic agenda Australia needs won't come from Mal or Bill

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY Child-support payments and parental alienation

MARRIAGE AND LAW NSW Law Society spruiks for same-sex marriage

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Germany's energy plan: a disaster in the making

MUSIC Monetising the muse: 'Frugal comfort' would be welcome

CINEMA Logan Lucky: Southern fried robbery

BOOK REVIEW Serious Bioethics salted with humour




CANBERRA OBSERVED Love may be love, but certainly consequences are consequences

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Love may be love, but certainly consequences are consequences

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, September 9, 2017

Proponents of same-sex marriage repeatedly assert that the question being put to the Australian people is a very simple one – whether any two individuals should be able to marry.

Even more puerile is the question whether two people of the same sex should be permitted “to love” one another.

It suits the “Yes” case to reduce the questions to such a level of banality, and to refuse to debate consequential issues that are quite thorny, complex and create uncertainties for children in the future who may never be able to know their biological father or mother.

In fact, the question being posed raises a myriad of other issues with far-reaching consequences for society.

Very important questions of freedom of speech and freedom of religion are at stake.

As overseas experience has displayed there are flow-on consequences when the government decides to change such a fundamental institution as marriage.

In other countries, such as the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Sweden, where same-sex marriage has been permitted, marriage participation rates have fallen.

WA Liberal MP Andrew Hastie posed some of these issues in a recent newspaper opinion piece in which he warned about the “madness of stifling political correctness” that will follow if marriage is redefined.

“[This is] especially because there has been no serious attempt to protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion in draft legislation,” Mr Hastie wrote.

“If we redefine marriage, the Attorney-General’s Department has advised that there would be approximately 60 consequential changes across 25 Commonwealth acts. That’s before we even understand how change would impact state and territory law, particularly as the Marriage Act interacts with anti-discrimination, charity and inheritance law.

“There are legislative consequences to redefining marriage, both intended and unintended.”

Mr Hastie went on to say that marriage has been at the heart of civilisation throughout history.

“It has, of course, been expressed differently through the prism of cultural and religious differences, but it has always been between a man and a woman. It is also not just a religious sacrament – as some people suggest – unique to Judaism, Christianity or Islam. Even pagan cultures practised it.

“The Romans and Greeks, who had a flourishing gay culture, always recognised marriage as inherently linked to the continuation of the family and strength of the state.”

Politicians assert that religious organisations will be permitted exemptions from anti-discrimination laws enabling ministers of religion on the basis of their religious beliefs to decline to marry a same-sex couple.

But what about preaching against same-sex marriage? Moreover, it is inevitable that religious schools will be obligated to teach the notion of gender fluidity and reassignment in schools and be denied the right to explain the nature and importance of traditional marriage.

Prominent Liberal MP Kevin Andrews has argued that the protections for marriage celebrants are likely to be very limited.

“The protections, to the extent they exist in the draft bills, are limited to the marriage ceremony. There are no protections, for example, for faith-based marriage education, counselling or welfare organisations. Nor are religious schools adequately protected,” Mr Andrews wrote recently in The Australian Financial Review.

“People who blandly assert that freedom of religion is adequately protected in Australia are either ignorant or being misleading.”

The campaign to change the marriage laws is heavily weighted towards the “Yes” case, with most media outlets and especially the national broadcaster strongly advocating a change to marriage.

Polls suggested that the vote to change the marriage laws will be overwhelmingly yes, which may well be the case. But the real question is, yes to what?

The last word comes from former prime minister John Howard, who declared on the ABC that it was not good enough to leave the questions of religious freedom and freedom of speech to lawmakers after the postal plebiscite.

“They’ve got to deal with that issue before the vote,” he said. “Saying, ‘we’ll deal with it afterwards’, is the equivalent of saying in an election campaign, ‘I’ll spend $50 billion on roads but I’ll tell you after the election how I’m going to pay for it’.

“If you tried to do that in a modern election campaign, you’d be laughed out of court.

“I think we need more details, more assurances, [and] more specificity.”

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm