[caption id="attachment_32906" align="alignright" width="300"] 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"] 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 the 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.
For release: Tuesday 15th July 2014
A more nuanced debate about changing the definition of marriage is needed, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
Polling showing support for legislative change fails to ask people about the knock-on effects, ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said today.
"Does the polling ask people if they are comfortable with children being taken from their biological mother or father.
"Are Australians happy for fellow citizens who believe in man-woman marriage to be sued in the courts or driven from their jobs because of their beliefs, as is now happening in other jurisdictions?"
Mr Shelton said it was all well and good to mount emotional arguments about love as Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyohjelm did yesterday.
"But if as a country we decide to support changing the definition of marriage can we all look in the eyes of a child and tell her that she cannot be raised by her biological mother.
"Are we really happy for dissenters to face legal sanction, as has occurred in Colorado, Washington State and New Mexico in the United States?
"We must ask how these consequences improve liberty.
Mr Shelton said Senator Leyonhjelm wanted to deregulate marriage.
"Does that mean he would support 'marriage equality' for 'throuples'? Where does this end?
“There are countries which allow other definitions of marriage such as child marriage and polygamy.
"Should we deregulate these as well? So many questions, so little debate.
"The debate Australia has been having about changing the definition of marriage has been very shallow.
"We need to be careful that we don't get caught up in a popular culture wave that leaves our nation, and most importantly children, with unintended consequences," Mr Shelton said.
ACL supported the removal of discrimination against same-sex couples in 2008 but like the then Labor Government, stopped short at changing the definition of marriage.
Polling conducted for ACL by JWS Research after the last election showed that same-sex marriage was a low order issue for voters.
We were told it would not come to this but it's looking more likely.
In Massachusetts, the first State in the US to redefine marriage, three women have had a lawyer draw up an arrangement that in their eyes says they are 'married'.
Polygamy remains illegal in Massachusetts but if we follow the 'equal love' logic it is hard to see why.
Using an anonymous sperm donor and IVF, Kitten became pregnant and she, Brynn and Doll claim the unborn child as their own.
Kids miss out on a dad because of tragedy or desertion but media and elite cultural acceptance means what the 'throuple' (their word) is doing is no big deal.
If love is all you need gender and nature's numerical norm does not matter to a child.
Even former High Court judge Michael Kirby, a vocal supporter of redefining marriage, is honest about this.
Asked at the 2012 Senate inquiry into the failed bill to redefine marriage whether polygamy would be next, Mr Kirby said that question was not before the parliament but added that these things are "step by step".
The political campaign to change marriage has hit a democratic road block with the parliament unwilling to change.
How Kitten, Brynn and Doll choose to live their lives is up to them. But public policy affects us all - especially voiceless children.
There is pressure on our parliamentarians to cave in.
But by remaining in the discussion, we can dodge redefining marriage and its logical consequences.
Last week in the Senate they tried and failed to remove the Lord’s Prayer from parliament.
Since 1901, the prayer has been recited at the start of each sitting day in the senate and house of representatives by the president and speaker respectively.
A group of committed pray-ers is always present in each chamber. No one is forced.
Australia did not become what it is in a vacuum. Christianity had a profound impact on the development of western institutions, including parliament.
While not everyone in Australia is Christian (although more than 60 per cent tell the census they are), nothing changes the fact that Christianity made a significant contribution to making Australia what it is today.
It is a simple fact that Christianity is part of our cultural heritage in a way that other religions are not. That is no disrespect to them. The ethics and ideas of other religions simply did not have the same impact on the formation of western values and the Australian nation.
As the pre-European peoples of this land, indigenous people, are of course a huge part of our cultural heritage. Recognition of their cultural heritage is also acknowledged in parliament each day and that is fair enough. The Greens have not sought to remove this.
Most of us would condemn the cutting down of a 113 year old tree, but when it comes to our cultural heritage the Greens are happy to fell any vestiges of the values of our past.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale cites the separation of church and state for wanting to remove the prayer.
This misunderstanding of the concept is becoming wearisome. The Greens and others who abuse this concept are attempting to cloak their secularism in neutrality and objectivity, but in reality seem to be excluding Christianity in order to substitute their own secular irreligion.
Australia was founded with the principle of separation of church and state but it was never meant to keep religious ideas, people or even prayers out of public life.
It was simply to ensure that Australia, unlike Britain, did not have an established church constitutionally entwined with the state.
The idea was for all religions to be allowed to flourish without any being favoured by the state.
This in no way precludes the Lord’s Prayer being recited or the Muslim MP Ed Husic swearing an oath on the Koran, as he did when he was appointed to the front bench during the previous government.
There is a clash of ideas and values occurring in our political discourse. That’s fine, that’s healthy, that’s democracy.
Suggesting that someone’s faith has no place in the workplace, as Senator Di Natale did, is anti-democratic. Why are Di Natale’s views superior?
Australia would not be the nation it is today if ethical ideas informed by faith were disbarred from the public discourse.
Whether people believe in God or not, the ideas of the teacher Jesus embodied in the Lord’s Prayer are worth reflecting on.
The idea that humans are not the font of all power is especially worth meditating on. Especially in parliament.
Meanwhile, the Greens have vowed to keep fighting to remove the prayer in the same way they are relentlessly campaigning to redefine marriage.
It is time to push back on their vision to deconstruct our civic and family life.
They are a small political party but they have a big voice. Seasoned with grace, we should start to use our voice. Silence is no longer an option.
Last December the High Court struck down the ACT’s same-sex marriage law and effectively cut off the legal pathway for states and territories to legislate for this.
In its ruling the High Court said the Commonwealth Parliament, if it wished, could legislate a new definition of marriage – even one that allowed for more than two people.
Despite the repeated assurances of the same-sex marriage lobby that their agenda does not lead to a slippery slope of polygamy or polyamory, the learned judges of the High Court made it clear that marriage did not necessarily mean a limitation to two people.
I don’t for a moment think the federal parliament will go for this, but the fact that such a broad definition was seriously canvassed by an institution such as the High Court underscores that we indeed live in interesting times.
It is not known when the Greens might seek to make their legislative move but it will most likely be in the Senate and soon.
No one seriously believes the numbers exist in this parliament to change the definition of marriage but that won’t stop the Greens and some of their supporters who regrettably exist in both major parties.
For them, this is a strategy of legislation by fatigue – chipping away at the support for man-woman marriage relentlessly.
We live in a democracy and while it is highly unusual for so much parliamentary time to be given over to an issue which has been repeatedly rejected, it is their right to campaign in this way if the parliament allows it.
This makes it all the more important for those of us who believe that motherhood and fatherhood should not be deliberately denied to a child, to speak up and not leave a vacuum.
The influential American Pastor Rick Warren, who prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, has stood lovingly and graciously firm in his support of man-woman marriage.
Like us at ACL, he is tired of being characterised as against certain people because of his views on marriage.
Last December, he was asked by CNN’s Piers Morgan why he apparently did not support ‘equality’.
“While I may disagree with you on your views on sexuality, it does not give me a right to demean you, to demoralize you, to defame you, to turn you into a demon
“See tolerance, Piers, used to mean we treat each other with mutual respect, even if we have major disagreements. Today tolerance has been changed to mean ‘all ideas are equally valid.’”
Warren went on to say this idea of tolerance was nonsense. It is worth watching this three minute clip from CNN.
In a 2012 interview with Christianity Today, Warren was asked about Christians who apparently hated Muslims. His response could equally apply to attitudes towards same-sex attracted people.
“I am not allowed by Jesus to hate anyone. Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
Australia has a unique opportunity on behalf of children to resist a trend to redefine marriage that has gripped a small number of nations in the world.
At the weekend yet another story appeared promoting the acquiring of babies by same-sex attracted Australian men through complicated commercial surrogacy arrangements, this time in Thailand.
Commercial surrogacy is of course illegal in Australia and for good ethical reasons. The story contained no discussion of the rights of the babies, who were ‘relinquished’ by their birth mothers to be raised by the men.
If the Greens have their way and a new definition of marriage is legislated, it will be near impossible either through stifling political correctness or anti-discrimination law to say it is wrong for a child to be deliberately removed from its natural mother or father.
Our democratic freedoms give us the right to prosecute the case for retaining marriage. The Christian concern for justice, particularly for children who can’t speak for themselves, means we must speak up.
Our disagreement with those seeking to redefine marriage and family does not mean we don’t love them. Yes, even the Greens.
Fifteen members of the Legislative Council spoke on the bill. Eight MLCs spoke in support of the bill while seven declared their intention to vote against the legislation. Three MLCs who had previously spoken in parliament in support of redefining marriage said they would vote against the NSW bill.
Niall Blair, Scot MacDonald and John Ajaka, all supporters of same-sex marriage, stated their opposition to the bill, saying instead that marriage laws were a matter for the Australian Parliament, not the states.
Letters from Cardinal George Pell and Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies were read out by a number of MLCs opposing the bill.
Many MLCs referred to the large amounts of emails and correspondence they had received regarding the bill.
Debate on the bill will resume in a fortnight.
A motion to reintroduce last year’s same-sex marriage bill in Tasmania’s upper house was this week defeated eight votes to six. During a long day of speeches, those supporting the motion tried in vain to convince those who had opposed the bill last year that new information presented was reason enough to bring back the bill for debate.
Much of the argument centred on legal opinions. Preeminent constitutional lawyer Bret Walker SC had given his legal opinion that Tasmania’s same-sex marriage legislation was constitutional and could withstand an inevitable High Court challenge. This advice was backed by a Law Reform Institute Paper. ACL had provided a counter opinion from highly credentialed lawyers/professors which helped many MLC’s to conclude that opinion was just as divided now as it was in 2012, some even using the term “lawyer shopping” to describe events since last year.
Sadly, as was the case in the previous debate, there were moments when the passion on the part of those supporting the motion crossed a line into what could be best described as manipulation for those unwilling to show “leadership” and support the motion. Such subtle pressure is also being applied to the general public via the media. This was clearly illustrated outside parliament immediately after the debate when a reporter from a well known national media outlet was uninterested in getting any opinion from anyone other than the gay lobby.
As was the case last year, it is likely that MLC’s who rejected the motion will be the targets of abuse and therefore will need our prayers and encouragement. Please send them a short letter of thanks (Note: although Legislative Council President Jim Wilkinson did not vote, he made it clear that he would not support such a motion should he have the casting vote).
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We are grateful to God that attempts to introduce euthanasia and same-sex “marriage” legislation this month have been thwarted. Our attention is now focused on the issue of abortion with debate on a bill to decriminalise abortion in Tasmania likely mid November. Please keep Tasmania in your prayers.
Mark Brown, Tasmanian Director
PO Box 89
Riverside TAS 7250
0408 850 629
For release: Tuesday 29th October 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has welcomed the defeat of a same-sex marriage motion in the Tasmanian Upper House this evening.
ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown says today’s decision by Legislative Council Members (MLCs) not to reconsider proposed same-sex marriage laws should send a clear message that it’s time to move on from this tiresome debate.
“This legislation was defeated in the parliament only last year. This debate has become wearisome. It is a low order priority for the majority of Australians and it is time to move on. There is no discrimination in Tasmanian law against same-sex couples – there is no need to redefine marriage.
“In the past 12 months same-sex marriage bills have been defeated in the federal House of Representatives, the Senate, the Tasmanian Parliament, and the South Australian Parliament. This was just another attempt to pass legislation by fatigue.
“Australia should have one law for marriage and it should be determined by the Federal Parliament. We only need look at recent events in the ACT to know that Tasmanian same-sex legislation would likely be challenged in the High Court if it were passed.
“It is not in Australia’s best interests to have a hodgepodge of marriage laws,” he said.
Mr Brown also said the failure of today’s motion was a win for families and the rights of children.
“Marriage between a man and a woman provides a natural, timeless and sustainable foundation for our society. It serves as the best, most stable environment where society can nurture and protect its next generation.
“Every child owes their existence to a mum and a dad and same-sex marriage would deny children the right to know their biological heritage,” he said.
For release: Saturday 5th October 2013
Advice from the commonwealth Solicitor-General that the nine people in the ACT Legislative Assembly trying to redefine marriage for the nation have overstepped the mark should bring the debate to an end.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said if a report in today’s Weekend Australian of legal advice to the Abbott Government is correct, then it was time to move on.
“This issue has had more than a fair go. There have been multiple Parliamentary inquiries and unsuccessful votes in federal and state Parliaments. An election was fought in part on Kevin Rudd’s pledge to legislate within 100 days,” Mr Shelton said.
“Labor’s worst primary vote in 100 years and the loss of 600,000 votes to the party of same-sex marriage, the Greens, demonstrates that voters are underwhelmed by this issue.
“Discrimination against same-sex couples in Australian law has long been removed and that is supported by the Australian people including Christian groups like ACL. There is no need to open up vulnerabilities to freedom of speech, freedom of belief and social justice for children by changing the definition of marriage.”
Mr Shelton urged the Government and the Parliament as a whole to take whatever action was necessary to protect the Commonwealth’s constitutional jurisdiction over marriage.
“I think the Australian people are becoming tired of the same-sex marriage lobbyists’ attempts to bring about legislation by fatigue. If they wish to persist with their campaign, they should put it to a referendum of the Australian people.
“Because of the consequences for freedom of speech, belief and the rights of children, all Australians should have a say if marriage is to be changed,” Mr Shelton said.
“There are more important issues facing the nation, such as the Government’s proposed cuts to overseas aid of $4.5 billion which was to go to our neighbours in extreme poverty.”