In the 1970s quirky ads for the non-alcoholic drink Claytons promoted, ‘‘the drink you have when you’re not having a drink’’. The same could be said of the current marriage debate. One side shouts ‘‘love equals love!’’ as if the Federal Government-recognised romance is at stake. The other side has focused on children’s welfare and threats to freedom. Few are talking about what marriage is and why the state has an interest in it.
If the issue was about the equality of loves, there’s no debate. Not all loves are equal. I love Mars bars, Valiant Chargers, my wife and my kids. This debate is not about equality, it’s about difference.
Ask yourself, ‘‘What’s so special about marriage?’’ Why should Canberra care about who loves who? After all, they don’t interfere with our golfing buddies, tennis partners or any other friendship.
Yet, governments and cultures down through the ages have understood the stable role marriage has played in the raising of children. Governments are keenly interested in kids (remember Costello’s baby bonus?), our nation’s future, and what is best for their nurturing. It’s no surprise where kids come from: a man and a woman. The two parents who gave birth generally have the greatest interest in their child’s welfare.
Kids thrive best under the special care and nurture of a caring mum and dad, no-one questions this. So it’s in a nation’s interest to do all it can to privilege the unique contribution committed mums and dads make. It’s why governments have not had the same interest in same-gender partnerships, since they need a different gender’s contribution to have kids.
Surrogacy and sperm donation bring significant complication to a child’s self-understanding and connection. No-one is suggesting we change the Marriage Act to privilege these extra people.
Back to our Claytons debate (perhaps not so Claytons now!). ‘‘No’’ campaigners have rightly focused on a child’s right, where possible, to their mum and dad’s unique care.
‘‘Yes’’ promoters want to wash away this difference and drown out discussion with slogans. It’s not, however, a simple redefinition accommodating the less than one per cent of the couple population who are same-sex-attracted, it will involve the complicated alteration of numerous laws and statutes that function as social signals.
More importantly, it changes the foundational building block of society and our promotion of the best way for men and women to partner and raise children.
No change at this level should be taken lightly.
Men and woman are wonderfully different. Marriage celebrates this diversity by uniting two people, to the exclusion of all others, for life, in the most intimate of acts with the potential of producing new life. I am voting no and would ask you to think carefully about this question. I know many of you are ‘‘over this’’ but it’s not just a simple change, it will affect all of us.
I encourage you to vote no and feel okay to do so based on the fundamental reality of men and women’s unique differences.
- Peter Hall, Mooroopna