It would be naïve to suggest that a significant social change can occur without an impact on society, on marriage, and on children.
Marriage is an institution that long precedes us, and one that should remain long after we have gone. Tinkering with it may well be reckless so we must be prudent as we discuss these proposed changes, and do so with honesty and respect.
The impact on society
We would suggest that one of the reasons there is social discomfort with same-sex marriage is because so many people realise the foundational nature of the concept of marriage and the way it is intrinsically connected to the fabric and strength of our society.
Our society has always recognised this relationship as the unit around which society is built. After all, it’s opposite-sex relationships that produce children, and as children are born, a society grows.
Same-sex relationships cannot produce children. This is not a statement of prejudice or discrimination, simply recognition of the limitations inherent in same-sex relationships.
While no one is naively suggesting that opposite sex relationships are always idyllic, there is still a fundamental agreement that this is how our society best works – generationally.
The many things that make it a challenge to maintain strong healthy marriages are not reason to abandon the idea. To legally change what we recognise as marriage and marriage-like relationships is a defining moment for a nation as it is such relationships that we entrust to the next generation.
It’s not wrong, or hateful, or fearful, to want to proceed cautiously and carefully with any changes to the accepted and endorsed family structure. It’s responsible and wise.
The impact on children
Certainly, there are tragedies where a child cannot have both parents - through tragic situations such as the death or desertion of a parent. However, the disadvantage of a motherless or fatherless home should not be inflicted on a child - with the complicity of government – by the legalisation of same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption and same-sex surrogacy.
Australian-born ethicist Professor Margaret Somerville condemns 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 a child should be allowed both a mother and a father.
A group of young adults deprived, as donor-conceived babies, of the possibility of knowing both their mother and their father have come together as Tangled Webs Inc. They speak with authority (PDF 92KB) for the next generation of children - the next stolen generation - 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 of the Rights of the Child affirms that "a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother”, and yet ‘marriage’ of two men and subsequent surrogacy will do exactly that, in a premeditated way. A little girl must live without a mother, purely to satisfy the desire of two men to have a baby of their own. What then of the rights of the child?
The American College of Pediatricians in 2004 concluded:
'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.'
Certainly, well designed and non-biased studies confirm that a child does best in every objective respect when raised by his or her own parents, or in the nearest equivalent context of an adopting mother and father.
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 interests of a child - and only the same-sex scenario is preventable.