The Gay Marriage Debate

By van Gend, David; Wilson, Tim | Review - Institute of Public Affairs, September 2011 | Go to article overview
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The Gay Marriage Debate


van Gend, David, Wilson, Tim, Review - Institute of Public Affairs


Marriage must remain a hetrosexual institution to protect the rights of children, says David van Gend.

There are some matters which are beyond the authority of any political party to tamper with.

Marriage is not a political or social invention, but a social reinforcement of biological reality: male, female, offspring. The father of modern anthropology, Claude Lévi-Strauss, called marriage 'a social institution with a biological foundation'. All our social ceremonies and laws exist to buttress nature - helping bind a man to his mate for the sake of social stability and for the sake of the child they might create.

Not all marriages do create children - but typically they do, and the institution exists for the typical case of marriage. If marriage did not have the momentous consequence, typically, of creating a child who needs stable care over prolonged periods, there would be no need to urge a marriage contract on adults entering a sexual relationship.

Bertrand Russell writes, 'It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.'

Homosexual relations cannot create children, so society has no institutional interest in regulating such friendships. They are of importance to the individuals involved, and demand neighbourly civility- but they do not meet nature's job description for marriage.

'Marriage is fundamentally about the needs of children', writes David Blankenhorn, a high-profile supporter of gay rights in the US who nevertheless draws the line at samesex marriage. 'Redefining marriage to include gay and lesbian couples would eliminate entirely in law, and weaken still further in culture, the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child'.

This is at the heart of opposition to same-sex marriage: that it means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that a child must miss out on either a mother or a father.

Marriage is a compound right, under Article 1 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights- not only the right to an exclusive relationship, but the right to form a family. Therefore same-sex marriage carries the right to form a family by artificial reproduction- but any child created within that marriage would have no possibility, ever, of knowing both her mother and her father.

Of course there are tragic situations where a child cannot have both a mum and a dad- such as the death or desertion of a parent- but that is not a situation we would ever wish upon a child, and that is not a situation that any government should inflict upon a child.

Yet legalising same-sex marriage will inflict that deprivation on a child. That is why it is wrong and must be opposed.

Human rights lawyer Frank Brennan shows us the way forward: ? think we can ensure non-discrimination against samesex couples while at the same time maintaining a commitment to children of future generations being born of and being reared by a father and a mother.'

Non-discrimination against samesex couples is exactly what federal parliament achieved in 2008 when over 80 pieces of legislation were amended by a bipartisan majority. Homosexual couples now enjoy effective equality with married couples in every way short of marriage.

The process must stop short of marriage, because marriage is about something much deeper than civil equality; it is about a natural reality- male, female, offspring- which society did not create and which only a decadent party like the Greens would seek to destroy. "This triangle of truisms, father, mother and child,' said Chesterton, 'cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it.'

David van Gend is a GP in Toowoomba, anda spokesman for the Family Council of Queensland.

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