Dear Senator Eric Abetz,
A short while back now, you did countenance the idea in an article in the Canberra Times that Asian countries are against marriage equality. I did reply to your article there, but it was lost completely in the innumerable responses you already had so perhaps here I can address a few issues in the quiet of my site. While that applies to the governments of these countries, it is not so true of their populations. In fact in a repressive regime such as South Korea only two years ago over 47% of their population openly stated their views on this had changed in the last five years and by 2013 there were 57% of the folks surveyed that supported some manner of the legally recognised union. The interesting convergence of our government with theirs is an unwillingness to listen to the voice of their “constituents”. I find it a strange argument for an Australian political representative to make especially when it is mostly untrue as numerous surveys, and research centres are discovering. It almost suggests that the views you are representing are of external governments not the opinion of your people’s desires, in our country, that you were elected to serve! Instead, you find it necessary to consider other countries who don’t elect you because why …. they might not buy up all our mining rights and minerals, and land, and farms and houses? So perhaps I am a little behind in pointing this out, but you’re a senator of AUSTRALIA, not China!
Now you want a plebiscite! I know polls can be inaccurate by a few percentile, plus or minus. It is fair to suggest that there is always elements of bias in the manner in which the data is collected that sways results in one way or another. Do you seriously think that this is a strategy that could reinforce your obviously personal viewpoint in the face of polls showing a 72% approval for legalisation from the Australian community? Who are you representing Senator Abetz? Your opinion, Asian governments or Australia? … and if our country, then perhaps, do you not wonder if a plebiscite is a losing argument also?
The previous day in the media you argued that legalising marriage equality may “lead to polyamory”? If indeed allowing a change to the marriage act was a slide towards polygamy, why do you give so much support to our Asian neighbours, many of whom allow polygamy? They are already there, Eric! I would have thought we would prefer to align ourselves with other western countries like New Zealand, Canda, the UK, the US or Ireland ñ all of which have marriage equality. We certainly have aligned ourselves with these in the past, why change and move in with the polygamists now, Eric? I am confused by your allegiances, Eric?
For the sake of five words.
The legislative proposal is to change five words in the marriage act to make it gender neutral. That’s it. Nothing else! Do you not understand that accepting polygamy would require far greater changes in the Marriage Act? The changes for access to “lead[ing] to polyamory” would be far more than five words to make it gender neutral., That is all we are discussing here, making it gender neutral. Sliding down the “slippery slope” to bestiality, marring your direct family members, “polyamory”, or any manner of things you are suggesting it will lead to would require very significant changes to the Marriage Act! Probably a complete rewrite! You have degrees in law and arts, and yet forgive me if I am lead to wonder do you not understand how the law works, Senator Abetz? How is this a rational argument for someone of your legal background? Are you so desperate to resist this idea that you will clutch at any straws that fall from the top of your head?
Churches are not affected
Ultimately, Senator, it’s about allowing a simple choice. It’s about two people (not multitudes) making decisions to stay together because they love doing so and having the state recognise it. Something many do already but which has no legal recognition. The change allows the churches to object to it as you feel “real Christians” should and not perform the ceremony at their discretion. Churches can still refuse to participate. That right is retained. Then there is the Presbyterian church saying they might refuse to perform any marriages if marriage equality goes ahead (also Page 2 & 19 of the SMH on July 6th, 2015). OK! Fine. Do they not understand that you have that absolute right now AND if the act is changed? It is merely about civil and legal recognition. Nothing more. You can still pronounce it as “evil”, still preach against it, still be bigots, still dislike it! It affords the two people the legal recognition of their relationship even if you don’t like or want it for yourself Senator Abetz!
LNP’s approach to Legislative change
It is such a small legislative change. But you and your colleagues appear to stuck on it. Morrison says he’s concerned about consulting a range of “stakeholders” to get their feedback. But he, in particular, will change other major pieces of legislations without consulting any “stakeholders” all the time. For example look at the major change to legislation your colleague Morrison put through before he moved portfolios. Not only did he not speak to stakeholders but he without reservation, used emotional blackmail on opposing senators to get draconian legislation designed to oppress entire communities housed in detention under our care! That was a major piece of legislation that effectively puts children in harm’s way and yet amazingly your next argument was about protecting children. I’m confused, Senator, as to what your party’s position on protecting children is?
Gay couples are already raising children
It would seem to me that protecting Children is a complete distraction, a “strawman” argument if you will. Children are not in the marriage vows! Marriage is not about children; it is about a relationship between two people. Children may result from that union, but marriage is about two adult people. A surprising discovery for many (especially the proponents against marriage equality) is, there are lots of married couples (older, infertile & simply not interested) that have a marriage that does not involve children at all. Another discovery for many is that Gay couples are already raising children. One of them is a fellow parliamentarian. OK, you and Penny Wong are not the best of friends, but you see and speak to her regularly. Let me repeat; Gay couples are already raising children. How exactly will resisting this legislative 5-word change provide greater protection for these kids? I can suggest some ways allowing it does protect children. In fact, it would ensure legal and social recognition of those children. It would protect from the legal discrimination frequently experienced in Gay relationships over inheritance and custody when one parent dies. It provides security for the children as it is more likely to reduce prejudice, stigma and discrimination against these families. How about considering protecting the children to the full extent of the Law by providing children of Gay couples the rights inherent in marriage under the Act? If you are truely concerned about children, then provide for the parents they have. You don’t get a second set of parents, you know, not unless adoption is involved. It would appear that there are more arguments that marriage equality is in the best interests of children being raised by same-sex couples. So your next line was ‘study after study’ had shown that children benefited from having a mother and a father. Although strangely that isn’t what Australian Government literary analysis reveals?
Studies supporting children
The trouble is that there are Australian studies (that’s the country you’re a senator of Eric) that say otherwise.
Perhaps you should read the study conducted by the University of Melbourne researchers that surveyed 315 same-sex parents and 500 children about their physical health and social wellbeing. The results there don’t agree with you, Eric. Don’t take my word for the results, look it up yourself, Eric! Of course, don’t read it if you feel the cognitive dissonance would not be good for you!
Domestic Violence & Separation
So if children thrive with two parents, I can only assume you must be anxious about the obvious issue of single parents and the high rate of divorced couples throwing a spanner into your concerns for children. Equally concerning to you must be family domestic violence in this country is at an all time high although not helped by your government’s removal of funding for legal aid, support and shelters. So surely one would assume you are putting your senatorial weight behind providing as much support as possible for issues of domestic violence and for single parents of these “enormously disadvantaged children” about which you are so concerned. Although aligning yourself in support of the “World Congress Of Families” who are opposed to single mothers as one of societies biggest drain on resources as well as damaging to societies moral fabric doesn’t suggest consistency here. What are you doing to help out folks for whom the failure of “straight marriage” from divorce and violence which results in either denying children their access to a mother and a father or damaging them because they have a violent parent? Still, I am probably wavering a little off topic here.
Couples have a right to choose to be without children, as they should have a choice about whom they love. Couples don’t usually found their marriages on “sexual complementarily and potential fertility” as Archbishop Hart suggests but on more esoteric values such as “love”. Fertility matching is obviously not a strong factor here when you consider that “IVF” is the most googled “word” in Australia. For many married adults “generating” children “normally”, is not even a physical possibility let alone the focus for getting married. And yet “children” is the fallacious “strawman” argument used to prop up the anti-equality rhetoric.
Legal protection for Children
“The institution of marriage has stood the test of time.”, You said. Really? It used to be about property ownership and dowries. Before that, Gay marriage was an institution of previous dynasties. “Heterosexual Marriage” the way this generation envisages it, is a recent historical invention. As for this generation, it hasn’t been doing so well. It now ends for huge proportions of our population down the familiar path of unhappy families, domestic violence, broken marriages, unfaithful partners, divorce, legal battles and subsequent family disruption! Yeap, straight marriage is doing so well … NOT! I do although agree with your comment (when taken out of context) that “For our children’s sake it [marriage] needs to continue to do so”. Gay Parents will be able to secure legal protections for their children if it is legalised.
My son’s school AND our Church is replete with both examples of single parents and same sex parents with normal happy children whose kids play in the church, the soccer field and the school play yard with my Son. We’ve been proud to attend the baptisms of children of Gay couples. Children need not be used as pawns in a fallacious argument!
The issue in the case for having children or getting married is about – a legal right to a choice for whom you love. Don’t you like it? Well, that’s your choice too! Changing the Law to allow choice doesn’t prohibit your bigotry, hatred, your ranting about polygamy, bestiality, being ambushed OR -alternatively – your acceptance or joy at the opportunity presented by giving LOVE between two people, legality.