ACL's Managing Director Lyle Shelton appeared at the Recognition of Foreign Marriages for Same-Sex Couples inquiry today in Melbourne. Below is a copy of his opening statement to the inquiry.


[caption id="attachment_32906" align="alignright" width="300"]photo 1 ACL's Lyle Shelton, far right, prepares to give evidence at senate inquiry[/caption]

Mr Chairman and Senators, thank you for the opportunity to present today.

The recognition of foreign same-sex marriages bill is an attempt to further pressure Parliamentarians into capitulating to the same-sex political agenda to change the definition of marriage.

There is no discrimination in Australian law against same-sex couples. But for some reason, it is important to some political campaigners to see marriage changed from what it is to something else.

And in doing so, they dismiss concerns about the consequences.

This issue continues to be privileged with extraordinary amounts of Parliamentary time and public resources devoted to it.

A bill to recognise foreign same-sex marriages was defeated in the Senate just last year.

There have been at least 11 attempts at State or Territory level to legislate a new definition of marriage. All have failed. A House of Representatives committee in 2012 declined to support it while this is at least the third Senate inquiry into changing the definition of marriage since 2010. There have been numerous State parliamentary inquiries in the past two years, all followed by votes opposing changing the definition of marriage.

The exception was the ACT Legislative Assembly where nine people voted to set a precedent for the nation, later overturned by the High Court as unconstitutional.

ACL facilitated 42,000 signatures on a submission to this inquiry. There is plenty of grassroots opposition to changing the definition of marriage.

[caption id="attachment_32907" align="alignright" width="225"]photo 4 ACL's Managing Director Lyle Shelton (left) gives evidence at the inquiry in Melbourne[/caption]

Such is the politically correct orthodoxy surrounding this issue, few are willing to stand publicly against the political agenda it represents.

No one wants to be accused of prejudice but this is what Australian Marriage Equality asserts is the basis for opposing their political objective is (see page 8 of the AME's Supplementary Submission).

This is of course deeply offensive to Muslims, Christians and Jews and countless other Australians of nominal or no religion who will always believe the truth about marriage and will want to teach it to their children.

We do not have fear or hate in our hearts, we simply have a view about marriage that we wish to see upheld in public policy. We will want to uphold this through the institutions of civil society such as schools, charities and churches that we create and participate in.

The recent Crosby Textor poll mislead people by framing the questions as if no one but the same-sex couple would be affected and that there would be no impact on religious freedom.

Our submission references a florist in Washington State, a photographer in New Mexico and a baker in Colorado who have all faced or are currently facing serious legal sanction because of their conscientious objection to participating in same-sex weddings. There are many more.

When the ACT was legislating last year, the Attorney General Simon Corbel wrote to me to confirm that businesspeople who exercised their conscience in declining to participate in same-sex weddings would be in breach of the anti-discrimination act. I'm happy to provide a copy of the letter.

Australians don't want to see their fellow citizens being fined or perhaps even jailed for acting on their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

A child such as baby Rhyley lying in a Thai hospital ward, featured on page three of yesterday's Age, is also affected by same-sex marriage ideology.

He is denied both his surrogate mother and his biological mother because the rights of two men to acquire a baby are allowed to trump the International Covenant on the Rights of the Child which says that all children have the right to be raised, wherever possible, by their biological parents.

Sure James and Steve are capable of showing Rhyley love, and I'm sure they will. But neither can be his mum.

Marriage is not just about the emotional needs of adults. The definition of marriage references a biological reality which helps protect the rights of children. That is why governments regulate marriage.

Governments have no interest in other forms of romantic relationships. They are simply none of our business.

Rhyley is denied his human right to a mother not because of tragedy or desertion but because of a deliberate social engineering decision taken by two men.

We have to ask ourselves whether this is ethical. We have to ask ourselves do we want a new definition of marriage to set these practices in cultural cement. The law is of course a teacher.

Our submission references polling which shows 73 per cent of Australians believe wherever possible a child should be raised by her or his biological mother and father.

We can't have it both ways and we desperately need an honest and mature debate about the consequences of changing the definition of marriage.

If we think removing children from their biological parents is fine, then go for same-sex marriage.

But "marriage equality" is a slogan whose meaning should be unpacked.

If equality is the principle, how can we deny other definitions of marriage already recognised legally by other foreign jurisdictions?

What makes the gay lobby's definition morally superior to those defined legally in other jurisdictions and cultures?

One of the many overseas examples of the legal harassment of dissenters to same-sex marriage is tphoto 3he story of Washington florist Baronelle Stutzman who is being sued by the State Attorney General. I table her story in a seven minute electronic format and seek the chair's permission to provide a copy to each committee member.

I challenge anyone to watch her story and continue to uphold the idea that legislating a new definition of marriage has no consequences for freedom

I challenge anyone who thinks there are no consequences to changing the definition of marriage to look a child in the eye and tell her she is not allowed to be raised by her biological mother or father.

Thank you.