The ‘marriage equality’ lobby has been using a highly focussed, small target strategy over the past five years. They have used a simple message that marriage is about love between two persons and that to limit marriage to just a man and a woman is discriminatory and unfair.
Furthermore, they have asserted that children nurtured in same-sex households are not disadvantaged in any way.
This overall approach has appealed to the Australian sense of social justice and a fair go.
It would seem that any change in the definition of marriage will have no negative impact on children or anyone else. It all sounds so reasonable.
As a result, anyone who opposes this logic is susceptible to being labelled as a bigot or homophobic.
An alternative to this way of thinking has been developed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. They have released a pastoral letter concerning the ‘same-sex marriage’ debate entitledDon’t Mess With Marriage(DMWM).
DMWM presents a very considered and strongly argued view that contrasts with the ‘marriage equality’ perspective.
DMWM starts by identifying the universal dignity of the human person including those who experience same-sex attraction. Consequently, these people need to be treated with respect, sensitivity and love and not be subject to unjust discrimination.
However, unjust discrimination does not apply when it comes to the issue of marriage.
DMWM argues that marriage can only be between a man and woman as marriage is about a lot more than whether two people love each other.
DMWM points out that the Church sees marriage as connecting sex and love, male and female, sex and babies and parents and children.
This view has been universally recognised across cultures and history. It is based on the complementarity of a man and woman that occurs at the level of our biology, psychology and spiritual gifts.
DMWM points out that marriage is the ”foundation-in-waiting” of a new family that becomes a basic cell of society. This basic cell becomes a place where new life is welcomed and nurtured and is a refuge for the weak, the sick and the aged.
An important aspect of this basic cell of the family is the role of fathers and mothers. DMWM highlights the distinctive contribution that a mother and a father each play in the upbringing of a child.
This combination has been found to provide the best environment to ensure the wellbeing of children and research is cited in DMWM to substantiate this claim.
Sometimes life’s circumstances prevent children being able to grow up in the same household as both of their biological parents. However, DMWM identifies that there is a big difference between these unintended circumstances and deliberately planning to create an alternative family that deprives a child of a mother or a father.
This line of argument leads DMWM to argue that “messing with marriage” and the family structures that result can also involve “messing with children”.
Beyond the impact that the redefinition of marriage will have on spouses and children, DMWM points out a range of far-reaching consequences for all members of our society.
One of the results of this change would be that husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, will be seen to be social constructs that would no longer matter.
These terms will be replaced with partner 1 and partner 2 along with parent 1 and parent 2. Those who still adhere to the traditional meaning of these terms will be open to discrimination.
DMWM provides a number of examples of religious leaders, business owners, parents, professionals, politicians and medical professionals in different parts of the world who have suffered from discrimination. There is no reason for us to believe that Australia will be immune from these changes if the law changes.
Once our society is given a chance to properly consider the arguments presented in DMWM without the pressure of name calling and social stigmatisation, the marriage debate will change considerably.
We must read DMWM and inform ourselves on this most important topic for the sake of ourselves, our children and future generations.
DMWM is available in parish churches and in Catholic schools. Once you are informed then we need to take action. The time for being silent has passed. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.
Please visit www.parra.catholic.org.au/ssmdebate to gather some resources to help you make your views known to your federal politicians who will eventually decide on the future of marriage in this country.