Untie the knot on marriage changes

Where are the ceremonies and civil unions for the consenting adults whose love stretches to more than one person, ponders NICK JENSEN?

THE Labor/Greens ACT Government has passed a civil unions Bill designed to take one more step towards redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.

Assembly Speaker of the House, and Greens MLA, Shane Rattenbury, made clear that “this is not the end of the road” for their agenda around redefining marriage.

What is interesting is that “the end of the road” is really at the heart of the matter.

Recently, ACT Greens convener Simon Copland wrote an opinion piece that criticised the Federal Greens for refusing to include polyamorous couples in their marriage definition (marriages involving more than two people).

He went on to challenge the whole marriage equality political movement, saying: “People who don’t fit into the mainstream queer mould are being excluded from the debate”.

Strange as it may sound, I think Mr. Copland is not only being more honest than most of those involved in the debate, he is also right. To claim that it is discrimination not to allow same-sex people to marry, and then exclude other people who want to marry, is surely hypocritical.

Where are the ceremonies and civil unions for the consenting adults whose love stretches to more than one person?

The ACT Government is deafeningly silent on this “equality”, and should, in all integrity, tell us before the October election where “the end of the road” really is, and why.

However, this is not the only problem with language. Surrounding this debate, the ACT Labor Party has regularly talked about it being a “human right” for same-sex couples to marry. This is simply misleading, as a Senate committee in June found that there is no more existing discrimination against same-sex couples in Australia – they now have the same health, legal and financial protections as any other couple.

In fact, this claim of “rights” has been dealt a significant blow internationally as well, with a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights making clear that same-sex marriage was not a universal human right.

Add to this the comments of our own Frank Brennan, chair of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, who suggests that not only is it not a right, but it is also potentially affecting children’s rights to a biological mother and father.

It is clear that the use of “rights” as an argument is more about a political and social agenda rather than genuine human rights.

There is a twist of irony to this story as well, with our Chief Minister making a formal apology to the victims of forced adoptions. Of course, this is a good and necessary thing, but to do it in the same week as legislating a civil-union law that essentially creates a situation where children are not brought up with their natural parents is quite surprising.

It’s time for the ACT Government to end this ideologically driven obsession with trying to change marriage. It is clear that any vote in the Federal Parliament is doomed to fail, and it is undemocratic to then try and push it through in smaller Territories when Australia’s representatives have spoken on this issue and Prime Minister Julia Gillard concurs that marriage is between a man and a woman.

People with same-sex attractions should be valued and accepted as any other innate human, but the union of a man and a woman is unique, offering what no other union can, and it needs to continue to be recognised as such.

Nick Jensen is a director of the ACT Australian Christian Lobby.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Opposition Leader Zed Seselja  will be addressing the Christian constituency in Llewellyn Hall, 7.30pm on Thursday, August 30.


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