On the 10th Anniversary of the Marriage Amendment Act 2004

Today marks a decade of protecting the true meaning of marriage, and of protecting every child's right, wherever possible, to have BOTH a mother and a father.

On 13 August 2004, the Senate passed the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 by 38 votes to 6, and so foiled an attempt by a homosexual couple who were “married” overseas to use the Australian courts to usurp our democratic process.

Exactly ten years later, a Senate Committee is considering a Greens Bill that asks us to accept exactly the same usurpation of our democratic process! That is extraordinary.

The Marriage Amendment Act 2004 contains only two substantive clauses. The first is:

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

and the second is the target of the Bill presently before the Committee:

Certain unions are not marriages
A union solemnised in a foreign country between:
(a) a man and another man; or
(b) a woman and another woman;
must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

Historically, the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 was provoked by the actions of two Australian men who had ‘married’ under the 2003 laws of Canada – where homosexual ‘marriage’ was originally imposed by provincial courts - and then brought their case to the courts in Australia in order to achieve a similar judicial ruling in favour of homosexual ‘marriage’ in Australia.

The Marriage Amendment Bill was brought to the Parliament in 2004 as a matter of urgency because, as the Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock said at the time, “some parties have already sought recognition of offshore arrangements approved under the laws of other countries and would be seeking recognition under our law.”

Australian law does, as a matter of general principle, recognise marriages entered into under the laws of another country, with some specific exceptions. It is the government‘s view that this does not apply to same sex marriages. The amendments to the Marriage Act contained in this bill will make it absolutely clear that Australia will not recognise same sex marriages entered into under the laws of another country, whatever country that may be.

There was bipartisan agreement in 2004 that such overseas laws should not be allowed to force the political process in Australia. Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon gave Labor’s support to the long-held definition of marriage (used in family law) as expressed in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 – and this bipartisan approach stopped the imminent judicial usurpation of a vital political decision.

The present Bill before the committee asks Senators to abandon that bipartisan position and welcome the very usurpation of Australian politics by foreign courts or foreign legislatures that provoked the 2004 legislation. What a monumental loss of political self-respect in just a decade, if such a Bill were to be supported!

Such a move would be cultural cringe at its worst, and unworthy of us.

It would also be a failure of responsibility on the part of our elected representatives, since this Bill attempts to circumvent the open and transparent process of Parliamentary debate on meaning of marriage in Australia. If the Greens wish to redefine marriage in Australia to mean a relationship no different to homosexual couplings, let them move openly, once again, to change the meaning of marriage in the Marriage Act. They were defeated in such an open attempt in 2012, by a two to one majority in the Senate, and this new Bill is an attempt to sneak gay marriage in by the back door.

It is also disappointing that a central justification for this Bill is the spurious claim, in the Explanatory Notes, that failure to recognise overseas same-sex marriage will leave legislators culpable for “great mental anguish and sometimes mental ill-health” in homosexual citizens! The scientific basis of the claim is worse than dubious, and the proposal that we should pass national legislation as a form of “self-esteem therapy” is risible.

One does not overturn the foundational institution of society - trashing a child's right to both a mother and a father, violating a parent's right to teach their child sexual right and wrong, and traducing the biological truth of marriage - as an act of psychotherapy for depressed citizens. There are other ways to help.

This Bill should be rejected as a cynical circumventing of the great public question of marriage, as an unworthy manoeuvre that would subjugate our national policy to the courts and legislatures of other countries.

Let the rest of the world go mad: we will defend the sanity of marriage and the right of the child to the love of both mother and father.

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