What is marriage, in human history?

1. What is marriage, in human history?

Marriage in Australia is defined in our law as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. This definition aligns with the time-honoured understanding of marriage throughout recorded history.

The cultural phenomenon of marriage is present in every society from the earliest recorded history while the concept of ’same-sex marriage’ is a uniquely post-modern construct.

However, marriage is much more than a legal convention or social tradition. Marriage reinforces and disciplines human biology, in the interests of society, and provides a stable, nurturing relationship for both husband and wife and any children which they bear.

Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss calls marriage “a social institution with a biological foundation”. He notes that throughout recorded history the human family is “based on a union, more or less durable, but socially approved, of two individuals of opposite sexes who establish a household and bear and raise children.”

After all, while not all marriages result in reproduction, the typical marriage does - and any social institution is based on the typical case. Most basic of all, the conception of human life requires both a male and female. As children require prolonged nurturing, it is in the interests of society to encourage stable and healthy marriages in which this nurture can take place.

Marriage exists in all societies (with only rare aberrations which only prove the norm) because infants at every time and every place need the patient love and nurture of both their mother and their father. All cultures take the biological ‘given’ of the natural pair-bond and reinforce it with customs and ceremony to achieve the social goal of stable families and communities. Historically this has been important for the protection of the pregnant woman and vulnerable children, as well as for the economic viability of the family unit.

Marriage mattered to the earliest recorded human societies, because marriage helps create order out of chaos: it assists with the civilising of sexual behaviour, helps protect women from exploitation, promotes stable nurturing of children, and knits society together through kinship’s ‘blood and belonging’.

The male-female pair bond is something 'given' by nature, not something invented by society. The social customs and laws surrounding marriage are just our best effort to reinforce this biological reality, to help build up the loyalty of a male to his mate and both to their children.

Therefore marriage is beyond the authority of any political party to re-define. Nobody can repeal nature.


What is marriage, in human history?

2. But isn’t marriage about ‘love and commitment’, not about gender?

No, marriage is all about gender, because the continuation of human life is all about gender. Natural sexual attraction between man and woman is at the heart of marriage; love and commitment help marriage fulfil its unique vocation of family formation – bonding the man to the woman, and both to their children.

Advocates of same-sex marriage argue, contrary to nature, that marriage is not related to biology and raising young, but are just about any two adults with an ‘emotional commitment’. Indeed, they argue that biology is not essential to family formation.

For example, the prominent homosexual advocate, Andrew Sullivan, writes that the essence of marriage “is not breeding” but instead “a unique and profound friendship”. A Washington superior court judge in 2004, ruling in favour of same-sex marriage, offered this simplistic definition: “To ‘marry’ means to join together in a close and permanent way”; that marriage is “a close personal commitment” that is “intended to be permanent” and which is “spiritually significant”.

But this vagueness applies to many different adult relationships, and says nothing of the specific vocation of marriage and children.

Marriage expert David Blankenhorn comments on this "marriage-as-close-personal-committment" argument:

I have a number of profound friendships and some intense personal commitments, all of which seem to me to be emotional enterprises. I am involved in a number of mutually supportive relationships, many of which, I am sure, enhance social stability. But none of this information tells you to whom I am married or why.

It is, therefore, not enough, to assert that marriage is all about “love and commitment” between any two adults, unrelated to biology and raising children.

While same-sex relationships may be a significant private relationship, to be treated with neighbourly respect by all, they cannot naturally give rise to children, and therefore the state has no interest in recognising such relationships as marriage. As the great atheist philosopher, Bertrand Russell, wrote years ago: "It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society and worthy to be taken cognisance of by a legal institution".

If intimate sexual relations did not have the momentous consequence of creating a child who needs stable care over prolonged periods, there would be no incentive for a legal institution of ‘marriage’ as society does not involve itself in the regulation of friendships. Society would and should mind its own business.

Marriage is all about regulating the natural sexual attraction that leads to the creation of children – and reinforcing the commitment – between a man and a woman. Marriage is all about gender, because it is ultimately about the uniquely male-female task of creating the next generation.


What is marriage, in human history?

3. Aren’t we discriminating against homosexual people?

Federal parliament comprehensively addressed unjustified discrimination against same-sex couples in 2008 when it amended 85 pieces of legislation to “eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in a wide range of areas, including social security, taxation, Medicare, veteran’s affairs, workers’ compensation, educational assistance, superannuation, family law and child support”.

It is one thing, however, to repeal discrimination on practical matters like superannuation and next-of-kin status, and an entirely different proposition to repeal and redefine a foundational expression in human society.

Australian human rights lawyer Frank Brennan AO, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, is an expert on discrimination. He thinks we have upheld the rights of homosexual people to equality in all civil matters, however the ‘right to marriage’ infringes on the still greater right of the child to have both a mother and father:

“I think we can ensure non-discrimination against same sex 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.”

Only the natural union of a man and a woman can create children, and so their relationship attracts the dutiful attention of society. This attention is to encourage parents to remain together and with their children, to avoid the breakdown of a family unit and its resulting disadvantage to children.

For its continued existence, society reinforces the core social task of marriage and family formation, but society has no common duty to ensure increased respect and visibility for same-sex relationships.

Because same-sex relationships do not have the public consequence of naturally creating children, same-sex couples are free from any public expectations concerning the legal status and long-term stability of their relationship for the benefits of children.


What is marriage, in human history?

4. Does a child need both a mum & a dad?

Certainly, there are tragedies where a child cannot have both parents – through the death or desertion of a parent. However, a government should never be complicit in having children planned to be deliberately placed in a home without their mother or father– by the legalisation of same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption and same-sex surrogacy.

Prominent Australian ethicist Professor Margaret Somerville writes against the deliberate destruction of a child’s biological identity as the child of a real mother and a real father:

“It is one matter for children not to know their genetic identity as a result of unintended circumstances. It is quite another matter to deliberately destroy children’s links to their biological parents, and especially for society to be complicit in this destruction.”

Some sincere people may question whether it really matters if a child misses out on a mother and a father. They should consider the response of a group of young adults who were deprived of the possibility of knowing both their mother and their father. They were conceived using an anonymous donor of sperm or egg, unable to know either their biological mother or father, and have come together as Tangled Webs Inc. They object to the violating of bonds of kinship and belonging; on the matter of surrogacy, which is relevant to the 'marriage' of two men and their 'right to found a family', they speak with authority for the next generation of children who will be deprived of what they call, very poignantly, a “whole mother”:

“A child’s best interests are served when it is conceived and gestated by; born to and nurtured by, one mother. To fragment maternal roles through ova donation/gestational surrogacy is to deny a child its entitlement to a whole mother.”

The UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child affirms that a child must not, “save in the most exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother”, and yet ‘marriage’ of two men and subsequent surrogacy will do exactly that, in a premeditated way.

It is often stated that it is better for a child to have two loving same-sex carers than a dysfunctional pair of biological parents. However, neither of these scenarios is in the best interests of a child. Neither gives a child what she needs: her very own mum and dad. We must restrain dysfunctional parents who would abuse their children, but we must also restrain dysfunctional legislators who would deliberately create, through legislation, motherless and fatherless families.

Comment by Adelaide paediatrician, Dr Rob Pollnitz

The child’s interests, not adult interests

“Homosexual activists claim that gay and lesbian parenting is as successful as that of heterosexual couples. I have read the studies they quote and find they are either inconclusive or subject to major methodological flaws. In contrast, there is a large body of social science evidence to support the view that children are best raised by their own mother and father. This is not a new concept – for at least 5,000 years enduring societies have valued traditional marriage between a man and a woman as the social nucleus in which children are best born and raised.

I believe that no-one has “the right to a child”, and I would urge that the focus in this area should be genuinely on the best interests of the child. My views on this issue are shaped by over 30 years’ experience as a specialist paediatrician. Throughout this time I have found that children develop best, both physically and emotionally, when they are reared in a stable heterosexual Mum and Dad family. Without criticising single parents or making judgements about people’s situations or experiences, when families fracture we see large increases in health problems, emotional imbalances, learning disorders, defiant behaviours, drug use, sexual promiscuity, and criminality.

I believe that our children are too important to be treated as social guinea pigs to appease the demands of a tiny if vocal minority.”

Comment by an association of hundreds of paediatricians in the US:

The environment in which children are reared is absolutely critical to their development. Given the current body of research, the American College of Pediatricians believes it is inappropriate, potentially hazardous to children, and dangerously irresponsible to change the age-old prohibition on homosexual parenting, whether by adoption, foster care, or by reproductive manipulation. This position is rooted in the best available science.

American College of Pediatricians, 2004


What is marriage, in human history?

5. How common is homosexuality?

Reputable research in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health ('Sex in Australia' 2003) finds the percentage of those who self-identify as homosexuals to be 1.6% of males and 0.8% of females – a population figure across men and women of only 1.2%. This compares to the 97.5% who identify as heterosexual. This study, of over ten thousand Australian adults by the Australian Study of Health and Relationships, was assessed as “robust and broadly representative of the Australian population.”

Note the contrast of this small number, 1.2% - similar in other countries - to the mischievous but oft-quoted figure of 10% based on the long-discredited survey of prison inmates by Kinsey. The use of this for purposes of public persuasion has even drawn the ire of lesbian activist Camille Paglia, in her books "Tramps and Vamps":

The 10 percent figure, servilely repeated by the media, was pure propaganda, and it made me, as a scholar, despise gay activists for their unscrupulous disregard for the truth. Their fibs and fabrications continue, now about the still-fragmentary evidence for a genetic link to homosexuality and for homosexual behavior among animals.

The number of same-sex couples in Australia is indeed very small, involving only 0.4% of all adults according to the ABS Australian Social Trends 2009. By contrast, 52% of Australian adults live in a
registered marriage. This number had reduced to nearer 0.3% in 2010-11. The 0.4% figure accounts for one third of the 1.2% of Australian adults who identify as homosexual.

Respect even for tiny minorities is necessary, but appropriate discrimination in favour of the vast social goods of marriage, children’s rights and freedom of conscience is also necessary.


What is marriage, in human history?

6. People are born gay, right?

Science cannot agree with that proposition, despite the regularity with which the claim is made in public discourse and in popular culture.

The American Psychiatric Association said we cannot draw that conclusion: “There are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality”.

Even the avowedly pro-gay American Psychological Association cannot reach a “born this way” conclusion:

Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. (pg4)

The director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, notes that “sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations."

Studies of identical twins fail to show the identical match of homosexuality in both twins, demonstrating that it cannot be a simplistic "genetic condition". There is no justification, then, for claiming that homosexuals are "born that way"; there is no simplistic gay gene or gay brain.

In the same way, psychological mechanisms are not sufficient to explain many cases, although there is a recurring clinical pattern in males of gravely disturbed childhood relations with their father, a “father wound” that leaves the boy enmeshed with the mother. Under this explanatory model, which has its proponents and detractors, the emotionally 'feminised' boy has difficulty identifying with his dad or his male peers, so as he matures into sexual awareness it is the “masculine” in others which comes to feel exotic and therefore erotic. Other boys report the trauma of molestation by an older male as the event that sears a homosexual self-image on their young minds. In no such case is any resultant emotional orientation a “choice” made by a little child; it is something done to him, not chosen by him - the simplistic claim that homosexual orientation is a "choice" is incorrect and unjust. Sensitively re-engaging the child with the world of peers and father-figures might, in some cases, help put his feet back on the regular developmental path.

For yet other boys, and for many women, the causative factors of same-sex attraction remain obscure. All one can conclude is that the phenomenon is multi-factorial in origin, with predisposing and precipitating factors; a deeply ingrained but potentially modifiable psychological condition, not an innate identity. This is the clinical understanding of many psychologists and doctors associated with the US-based National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (www.narth.com).

There are many individual cases where a homosexual orientation is evidently not inborn or unchangeable. Senators at the May 2012 enquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 heard from an Australian man who had been actively homosexual for most of his adult life but is now married with three children:

For 30 years I yearned for homosexual union with all my being, but I became disillusioned with both the superficiality and the transience of gay relationships. I am now leader of a ministry which supports people who struggle with issues of sexuality and relationships. In the last six months I have celebrated with two ex-gay men who have married beautiful wives, and with another two couples who have given birth to babies.

Another prominent man who describes himself as an ex-homosexual is the US (former) gay activist Michael Glatzke, whose story can be read in the New York Times HERE. And in an updated interview (Feb 2014) with a psychologist, Michael concludes:

… when you leave homosexuality, there's a sense of growing up. There is a sense of leaving adolescence behind, of becoming whole. I can't explain it any further than that.

Such men are not meant to exist under the “born this way” theory. Clearly they - and innumerable similar individuals - were not 'born that way', nor did they have to 'stay that way', and the "innate and immutable" theory is not true to the clinical reality.

Even as a matter of political opinion, not all homosexuals agree with the biological determinism argument for same-sex attraction, with prominent UK gay rights activist Peter Tatchell saying:

[A]n influence is not the same as a cause. Genes and hormones may predispose a person to one sexuality rather than another. But that’s all. Predisposition and determination are two different things. There is a major problem with gay gene theory, and with all theories that posit the biological programming of sexual orientation. If heterosexuality and homosexuality are, indeed, genetically predetermined (and therefore mutually exclusive and unchangeable), how do we explain bisexuality or people who, suddenly in mid-life, switch from heterosexuality to homosexuality (or vice versa)? We can’t.
Another gay activist, lesbian academic Camille Paglia, writes in her book "Vamps and Tramps" about the fluidity of sexual orientation:
If a gay man wants to marry and sire children, why should he be harassed by gay activists accusing him of 'self-hatred'? He is more mature than they are, for he knows that woman's power cannot be ignored. If counseling can allow a gay man to respond sexually to women, it should be encouraged and applauded, not strafed by gay artillery fire of reverse moralism.
At AMF we hold the position that no person is defined by their sexual orientation. They are individuals first and last.

What is marriage, in human history?

7. But don’t we need to reduce gay-bullying?

We need to reduce all bullying.

The one plausible pretext for schools to introduce ‘affirmative’ teaching on homosexuality is that there is a plague of gay-based bullying in our schools, and the only way to counter that is through sensitivity training, and the catch-cry of “celebrating diversity”. This is the justification for the NSW ‘Proud School’ programme and any number of “Safe School” strategies around the world.

That claim, however, appears to be false according to a number of lines of evidence. In one large study of a thousand gay and lesbian adults in Europe, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (King, 2003) the researchers found no increase whatsoever in gay-based bullying in their past, whether at school or subsequently.

None. Nothing special. No justification for the activists to move into the nation's schools to make them ‘safe’ for homosexuality.

The researchers noted that reports that gay men and lesbians are disproportionately vulnerable to school harassment "are often taken at face value", with other studies failing to draw a comparison to a control group of heterosexual students. In this study, both heterosexual and homosexual students were found to suffer similar high rates of school bullying and harassment.

In other words, there are many reasons to be bullied at school – for being too smart, too dumb; too fat, too thin; or for standing up for other kids who are being bullied. That is something we all go through, and the claim that homosexual people suffered it worse appears to be "taken at face value".

There are less insidious means to address the perennial problem of bullying - for all students - than by normalising homosexual behaviour in the curriculum.


What is marriage, in human history?

8. How else will “gay marriage” harm society?

Whenever special rights for homosexuals have been granted, including same-sex marriage rights, there has been a diminution of rights for others. If a government declares a certain right for a minority group, of necessity it must insist that others recognise and affirm those rights.


If we normalise homosexual marriage in law we normalise homosexual behaviour in the school curriculum with the full force of anti-discrimination law. Education would have to comply with the new normal. Children will have to be taught that homosexual relations are no different to the old mother-father model of marriage.

After the courts in Massachusetts, USA, legalised homosexual marriage in November 2003, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary children were given homosexual fairy stories like King & King; some high school students were even given an explicit manual of homosexual advocacy entitled The little Black Book:Queer in the 21st century. Parents who objected were told, in a case that went to court, that they had no right to withdraw their child from a class being addressed by homosexual advocates.


Changing the definition of marriage, which has lasted for time immemorial, is not an exercise in human rights and equality; it is an exercise in de-authorising the Judaeo-Christian influence in our society, and any who pretend otherwise are deluding themselves.

Former Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard, Sydney 2011

Canadian Queen’s Counsel, Barbara Findlay, declared, “The legal struggle for queer rights will one day be a showdown between freedom of religion versus sexual orientation”. Asked about this showdown, Obama-appointee to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chai Feldblum, answered, “In almost all cases sexual liberty should win, because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner.” Laws normalising gay marriage are the big stick needed for “queer rights” to beat religious freedom into legal submission. And “any who pretend otherwise are deluding themselves”.

And so, in Massachusetts under its gay marriage law, when the adoption agency Catholic Charities was compelled by authorities to place children equally with homosexual couples (which was in violation with its belief about the meaning of marriage and the rights of the child) it had no option but to cease its services. A judgement of the European Court of Human Rights found that if same-sex marriage is legal in a member state, then any church that refuses to marry same-sex couples would be guilty of discrimination.

There should be no pretence in our Parliament that churches can be guaranteed lasting exemption from the law of homosexual marriage.

All over the Western world we are seeing cases of those concerned about faith and family being intimidated, harassed, targeted and censured by both the homosexual activists and the force of law. For example, if a state passes a so-called “hate speech” law saying homosexuals cannot be spoken about in a negative light, that of course greatly reduces freedom of speech, and criminalises all sorts of legitimate forms of speech.


Creating special rights for homosexuals will mean that others will have the obligation to see those rights be met. Thus many religious groups for example are having to quit offering or performing various services and functions, rather than be compelled to go against conscience and religious teaching to meet the demands of these activist jurisdictions.Home owners, small businesses, and religious organisation have all been negatively impacted by same-sex marriage laws and other pro-homosexual legislation. These activists are using the heavy hand of the law to impose their agenda on the rest of society, whether others like it or not.

Just consider one story of a florist sued by a gay man - who had been a friend and customer for years - because, in sincere Christian conscience, she could not provide her labor for a same-sex wedding. Watch it and be disgusted by this new, brutal intolerance:

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