ANSWERS

When discussing the redefinition of marriage, has anyone ever told you that…

Marriage is a human right?

It is true that marriage is a human right. But it does not follow that we have the right to redefine what the word “marriage” actually means. The “human right” to marry is the right to enter into the permanent, voluntary union between one man and one woman. This was confirmed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in the case of Ms. Juliet Joslin et al. v New Zealand, Communication No. 902/1999, U.N. Doc. A/57/40 at 214 (2002). The Committee said that signatories to the relevant UN treaties did not need to offer same-sex marriage in order to comply with “the right to marry”.

On the other hand, there is a recognised and undisputed right for a child, wherever possible, to know and be cared for by its mother and father (Article 7(1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child). Redefining marriage will deprive children of this right.

Human-Rights-Infographic

Same-sex couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, and civil unions don’t allow for this?

Both State and Federal laws have recognised the rights of individuals in same-sex relationships in Australia. In fact, in 2009 following a full National Inquiry, the Federal Government amended more than 80 Commonwealth laws which the Australian Human Rights Commission considered discriminated against same-sex couples and families.

People in same-sex relationships have equal access to government entitlements and superannuation benefits as people in heterosexual relationships.

A redefinition of marriage is not necessary in ensure that same-sex couples are protected by the law.

It is hateful/homophobic to oppose the redefinition of marriage?

Protecting the definition of marriage is about protecting children, and preserving a right that we all deserve – the right to be connected to our biological mother and father.

All relationships matter. All people in relationships matter. But not all relationships are “marriage”. All people deserve to be loved and protected, but preserving marriage as the relationship between one man and one woman who come together to found a family is not discriminating against other relationships, it is merely society distinguishing this biological reality as distinct to other types of relationships.

Treating different relationships differently is not discrimination.

Children of same-sex couples do just the same, if not better, than children of heterosexual couples?

There are studies which report that children of same sex couples do just as well, if not better, than children of heterosexual couples. There are also studies which say the exact opposite. The truth is that all of this is so new that we do not have enough data to make comprehensive conclusions about the wellbeing of children, as there have been no long-term, large cohort studies of children raised from birth by same-sex couples.

Many of the studies that have looked into the wellbeing of children raised by same-sex couples often use subjective indicators of child wellbeing, and many of these studies have been based on small numbers of self-selected participants, limiting their reliability.

What we do know is that when children grow up without a mother or a father, their long-term wellbeing is harmed, and for this reason marriage is worth preserving! Children are too important to be the subjects of a social experiment.

If marriage is all about children, then why do we allow infertile or elderly couples to marry?

Extending marriage to same-sex couples inherently removes the institution of marriage from one of its key components (the unifying good of procreation) and instead identifies the personal fulfillment of the marriage partners as the defining feature of marriage. By contrast, infertile couples still participate in the marital act – which is connected to procreation.

In addition, the fact that infertility is a loss for married couples simply demonstrates the connection between marriage and procreation.

And although not every married couple have children, all children have a mother and a father. And our focus is, and should be, primarily on the children.

My marriage won’t affect your marriage?

Changing the definition of marriage will impact future generations, because the Government will no longer see the link between children and their biological parents as important. The Government will also no longer be able to object to recognition of other types of relationships as “marriage”, as any principle that is now being used to justify the legal recognition of same‐sex relationships can also justify the legal recognition of polyamorous and non‐sexual relationships.

How will this affect us? Let’s look at what has already happened in Australia. 40 years ago, no-fault divorce was legalised. Today one in three marriages end in divorce. Divorce does not shock and sadden us in the same way as it did before 1975 because this generation’s understanding of marriage has changed. In the case of same-sex marriage, removing the heterosexual requirement of marriage will diminish the idea that marriage is linked to children, and generations to come will consider the emotional relationship of adults, and not the wellbeing of children, is the primary reason for marriage.

All love is equal?

The “equal love” slogan is a popular one. Unfortunately, it’s just that. A slogan. But we are not trying to define “love.” We are trying to preserve the definition of “marriage.” While marriage and love are deeply connected, they are not synonymous. Marriage is about more than love. And love is about more than marriage.

Denying same-sex marriage puts young, LGBTI Australians at risk of suicide?

This is a critical issue, because we all want to eliminate suicide in our society, and statistics show that there is certainly a higher suicide risk with young people who experience same-sex attraction. A recent BeyondBlue study told us that discrimination and exclusion are key causal factors in mental health problems for young LGBTI people. So we need to make sure that our language and our approach to this issue always comes from a place of love.

This is not only an obligation from Churches and others who favour the current definition of marriage, but also for those who advocate for its redefinition. Young LGBTI people can feel particularly excluded when they are told the Church and supporters of maintaining the Marriage Act see them as less worthy than those who do not have same-sex attraction.

The BeyondBlue report also tells us that sometimes, a health professional will address the sexual orientation of the young person and not any underlying mental health issues. Defining people by their sexuality does not help, and part of what the Church tells young LGBTI people is that they are not defined by who they are attracted to. They are more than their sexuality.

It is irresponsible and dangerous to tell young people that marriage will make them happy. Many Australians, irrespective of their sexual orientation, will never marry. Suggesting that marriage is the only path to happiness puts them unnecessarily at risk.

Denying marriage to same-sex couples is the same as denying marriage to those from different races or religions?

The historical prohibition of interracial marriage is entirely different to upholding marriage as being between one man and one woman. Race is not an essential feature of marriage, whereas gender is. Even societies that historically embraced same-sex relationships treated them as distinct from marriage.

A same-sex union, however committed, cannot be a marriage because it lacks one of the fundamental components of marriage: the ability to generate new life.

The overwhelming majority of Australians support same-sex “marriage”?

The statistic we hear often is that 72% of Australians support changing the definition of marriage to include same sex couples. That statistic comes from research commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality. However, what is not often quoted is that although 72% who said they supported marriage redefinition, only 48% said they strongly supported it. And amongst those who say they support the redefinition of marriage, 30% of them said it wasn’t an important issue.

Only 23% of those surveyed saw the redefinition of marriage as a “very important” issue.

Furthermore, 172 out of the 193-member countries of the United Nations currently define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Australia’s current law accords with laws in the overwhelming majority of countries around the world.