Across Australia homosexual activists are seeking to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships. Fortunately, although to some surprisingly and disappointingly, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has affirmed her personal support of marriage remaining what it always has been, a commitment between a man and a woman.
A key argument for keeping marriage that way is that it protects children, since social science shows that children do best when raised by a married mother and father. However, the campaign for same-sex marriage has always displayed scant regard for children’s rights.
The latest state to recommend the radical
re-ordering of the lives of some children is South Australia. Recently a
parliamentary committee, after a year-long inquiry, reported back with seven
recommendations on same-sex parenting. These include extending assisted
reproductive technology to lesbian and single women, making the partner of the
birth mother a co-parent legally and on the birth certificate, allowing
altruistic surrogacy to same-sex couples and allowing same-sex couples the
ability to adopt children.
These recommendations come as no surprise. It
appears the inquiry never intended considering the broader and long-term impact
on children should they be denied the right to at least begin life with their
biological parents. Nor did it consider the impacts or interests of the donor
in the context of reproductive technology. Instead, the terms of reference for
the inquiry were biased in favour of the desires of same-sex parents.
In explaining its reasoning for the
recommendations, the Social Development Committee focused on the “needs” and “challenges”
that same-sex couples and singles faced. It was informed by their emotional needs
and the view that adults have a right to have children, no matter if they are a
single or in a same-sex relationship.
Consider the “urgent” recommendation to “amend parentage laws to recognise the
female partner of a birth mother as a child’s parent.” The committee argued
it was necessary so that South Australia could be consistent with other
Australian states and territories that have adopted the same ruling. It said
the change would also relieve lesbian couples of the need to drive to other
states to give birth (because they wanted their partner to be recognised as co-parent)
and would finally help resolve inconsistencies in federal and state legislation
when it comes to parenting payments.
Is there not more to the issue than this? Do
we follow the crowd, or does the South Australian government have the integrity
to analyse these claims and ask questions? It should at least look at what has
happened in other states that have adopted this legislation.
New South Wales is currently grappling with
the complexities surrounding a co-parent being legally recognised as the parent
on a birth certificate. The case concerns
Mr BB, 58, who donated sperm 10 years ago to a lesbian couple. (The names have been suppressed by a court order to protect the child.) The
lesbian couple agreed at the time for him to be involved in the child’s life.
However, the women separated in 2008 and the co-partner of the woman who gave
birth is now taking the NSW registry of births, deaths and marriages to court
to have BB’s name removed from the birth certificate. It is the first case
of its kind since the state introduced retrospective laws in 2008 giving
lesbian couples equal parenting responsibilities or legal status.
Understandably, BB is reported to
be devastated at the prospect of his name being taken off the birth
certificate. It is a sad story and should ring a loud warning bell to the South
Australian government and other jurisdictions on the complexities around giving
legal recognition to a co-parent on the birth certificate.
Where is the compassion for the father of
the child, and for the child, who needs to know who he or she is? It is an
oversimplification of the issue to think only of the needs and rights of one
person (the co-parent in this case) in this group.
The South Australia committee said that allowing
a co-parent on a birth certificate would address discrepancies in state and
federal legislation. But really the issue at the heart of this is whether the birth certificate is meant to be a record of biological
parentage or social parentage. It really should be a biological document (and
yes, this should be true of all birth certificates).
The committee’s second recommendation was
to allow assisted reproductive treatment in South Australia for same-sex
couples. It again used the argument about same-sex couples travelling to other
jurisdictions and incurring unnecessary expense and stress.
The report went on to say that at present,
because single and lesbian women don’t have access to assisted reproductive
treatment in South Australia, they would have to self-inseminate outside of
regulated clinical settings which would “place
a woman and child at risk of disease because the donor is not thoroughly
screened for genetic diseases or sexually transmitted infections.”
are small issues when compared to the bigger issue that the committee failed to
address, the elephant in the room, namely, whether or not we think children
should have the right to at least begin life with their biological parents and
whether government is obligated to act in the best interest of the child where
it clashes with the desires of adults.
the tone of the committee’s report suggested it was odd and old-fashioned to
believe in a traditional nuclear family, and therefore we should forget about trying
to encourage it:
“The Committee considers
that attaching a narrow boundary to the definition of ‘family’ serves only to
exclude a significant proportion of the South Australian community. The
Committee recognises that family units are not fixed entities; they have
changed over the years and take on different forms in different social and
Yes, society has had to navigate the roads
of family breakdown sensitively and graciously, but should we recommend this for
future generations as the new “family”?
While some people may think an evolving
family is a part of a changing society, biology will tell us differently. The
reality is that two women or two men, a single man or a single woman cannot
reproduce. Biology tells us we need a man and a woman. Why is this so? If we
believe in God, we might attribute this to his plan for mankind; for Adam to
find a helpmate in Eve and for their relationship to be able to produce
offspring and for that child to be raised by their biological parents, which is
part of their identity.
It’s clear that the committee had a narrow
view of the issue in conducting the inquiry. It based its reasoning for
supporting same-sex parenting on money and inconvenience and the emotions of
the same-sex would-be parents. It failed to consider the donor and their family
over time and also the child. It didn’t even attempt to pre-empt counter arguments
or to reply to them.
It should have addressed these issues
because what the activists are asking for contradicts the natural way of life. We
look back on aspects of racism in our history and ask ourselves what on earth
were our forefathers thinking by believing a person’s colour of skin or race
should determine how they should be treated. Will our children not look back on
our generation and ask what on earth were we thinking by setting aside the
natural foundations of family life and allowing these complex family structures.
Katherine Spackman is the Australian
Christian Lobby’s Media Relations Officer.