UPDATE: This article was submitted just hours before a television advertisement opposing same-sex marriage (below) was to be broadcast across Australia on the Channel 9 and WIN network. At the very last moment, Channel 9 cancelled the advertisement in all major cities, although it still ran on WIN. No explanation has been given by Channel 9. Those looking for evidence that legalized same-sex marriage will have a chilling effect on public debate in Australia need look no further.
Last week the anniversary of an old injustice and the prospect of a new injustice came together and challenged us. March 21 was the second anniversary of the National Apology for Forced Adoption. In 2013 our then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, spoke movingly to the nation about “the most primal and sacred bond there is: the bond between a mother and her baby”.
Our then Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, also affirmed “there is no stronger bond than that between mother and child”.
Both leaders apologised for a misguided policy that had broken this primal bond and caused ongoing grief to mothers and children.
How hypocritical, then, that last Thursday a new policy to break that primal bond was scheduled to come before the Senate. It was a policy that would institute marriage without a woman, and so create families without a mother. Senator David Leyonhjelm’s Freedom to Marry Bill 2014 was withdrawn from the Senate at the last minute, in the face of two million emails urging the Government to keep marriage between man and woman.
The Bill will return and, if passed, would be a coldly calculated decision to abolish a mother from the lives of any future children created within two-man ‘marriage’. The most primal and sacred bond would be broken again.
That past and future offence against the child is the subject of our new TV ad, launched nationwide last night as part of the Australian Marriage Forum’s campaign, “Think of the Child”.
Of course some children already miss out on a mother through death or separation – but nobody would ever wish that loss on a child. No government should ever impose that loss on a child – and yet Senator Leyonhjelm’s Bill asks our political leaders to do exactly that.
Just as our leaders in 2013 stopped to listen to the parents and children whose family bonds were broken through forced adoption, so they must stop and listen to parents and children whose family bonds have been broken by same-sex parenting.
Their voices have been loud this month.
“Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting.”
Even bigger international headlines, and absurd accusations of homophobia, were made when gay fashion icons Dolce and Gabbana told Panorama magazine this month,
“We oppose gay adoptions… You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be… Life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.”
“Every human being has a mother and a father, and to cut either from a child’s life is to rob the child of dignity, humanity, and equality”.
Our policy on marriage and family should hold to one clear principle: that no law should deliberately deprive a child of a mother or a father. Under that principle there can be no same-sex marriage, because marriage carries with it the legal right “to found a family” through adoption or surrogacy and so create motherless or fatherless children. Nor can states allow surrogacy and adoption rights for single people, whether heterosexual or homosexual.
Last week was a teachable moment on the harms of public policy, when our heartfelt apology for violating a child’s most primal relationship with her mother was set alongside a libertarian push to violate that relationship all over again.
But saying sorry means not doing it again.
If we break that primal bond once more, which future Prime Minister will have to give a National Apology to the ‘Motherless Generation’?
David van Gend is a family doctor in Toowoomba and President of the Australian Marriage Forum. The “Think of the Child” multimedia advertising campaign is entirely crowd-funded by donations at the website www.AustralianMarriage.org