Sunday, 24 June 2012

Children the victims in minefield of same-sex marriage breakdowns

Posted without comment by GS


Children the victims in minefield of same-sex marriage breakdowns

HOMOSEXUALS can love and they can be monogamous. They are in all respects, save one, like anyone else. Of course, the respect in which they are different is that they cannot conceive children through sexual intercourse. Without children there is no life. True, some heterosexual couples cannot conceive, but that is by exception.
The chairman, Graham Perrett, and some members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs have supported the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012; each proposes to change the Marriage Act to recognise homosexual marriage.
Perrett suggests that "marriage is still the best way to protect committed monogamous relationships". And further: "The love between same-sex couples is no different to that of opposite-sex couples, and deserves no less the public recognition which marriage bestows."
He fails to mention children. If it is only about love and recognition of a monogamous relationship, then there is no debate: do what you like to marriage. But if it is about children and the best institutional means of securing their future, then there is a debate.

For the supporters of homosexual marriage, marriage is not about reproduction; it is about delivering equality. Their claim ignores the fact two men or two women cannot as a matter of course, indeed, as a matter of intercourse, conceive children. Barring extraordinary intervention, there is no next generation.
The evidence seems clear: the best conditions for the creation and upbringing of children is a loving, long-term relationship. Whether these conditions are emulated in a homosexual relationship, however loving and stable, is the case in point. Homosexual couples may contrive to have children, but if they do so, a third and sometimes a fourth person enters the relationship.

I take a practical view on the matter, as prescribed by Murphy's law. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.
In considering changes to the Marriage Act, the more people are involved, the likelier is the breakdown of the marriage. Moreover, should breakdown occur, it would be more difficult than it otherwise would be to manage the future of the children.
Placing to one side the ideal -- natural conception within wedlock -- homosexual marriage may work for children.
Heterosexual as well as homosexual marriage where IVF or surrogacy is used, however, carries the potential for donor claims during the marriage, or at its dissolution.
My argument is that, while homosexual marriage may not carry an extra risk per se, if there is an intention to have children, it always starts with a third person, a sleeper in the relationship. This is not true as a matter of course in heterosexual marriage.
Start with the simple case of a failed marriage: one man, one woman and one healthy child. The relationship breaks down. So long as one or both parents are not incompetent, parenting can be shared through the length of the child's life. Even still, there is a great deal of litigation at the Family Law Courts over these matters.
Consider a complex and, incidentally, true case: two women in a relationship conceive babies by artificial means to two men in a relationship. Both relationships break down. Potentially, each child has four people claiming a relationship with the children.
The Family Law Courts and many talented practitioners in Australia work mightily to settle what two parents and more cannot: the continuing shared parenting of children after the dissolution of the marriage. Adding more claimants makes it much more difficult.
Marriage as an institution for child-rearing is not foolproof. Adding complexity to an already increasingly complex world for marriage intensifies as a matter of course, not as a matter of exception, for homosexuals.
In the 1980s, Australian state and territory governments began amending legislation to provide de facto couples with similar rights to married couples, and from the end of the 90s they began to extend these rights to same-sex de facto couples to remove discrimination based on sexual orientation in relationships.
But that is as far as it goes.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has been at its unhelpful best in its submissions to the parliamentary committee, arguing that "the principle of equality requires that any formal relationship recognition available under federal law to opposite-sex couples should also be available to same-sex couples".
Homosexual marriage begins with a vastly different assumption to heterosexual marriage. The assertion of equality cannot overcome this assumption.
The commission also states, "We do hold a very genuine concern that anything that publicly legitimises discrimination of any kind does play to a feeling that these relationships can be treated with less respect." The respect is for the institution of marriage, not a contrived equality.



  • Muzz of Canberra Posted at 12:40 AM June 21, 2012
    To sum up, if a woman wants a child she gets pregnant. If a man wants a child he gets married.
    Comment 1 of 26
  • helgab of Perth Posted at 1:12 AM June 21, 2012
    I agree - you can't have it all. It is a fact of life no matter who you are or what relationship you are in.
    Comment 2 of 26
  • still undecided on this Posted at 2:42 AM June 21, 2012
    Hmmm. Question: If homosexuals were allowed to marry should one of the partners already have sired children would the new spouse be able to addopt the child(ren) and become a parent as I believe is the case in hetrosexual marriages.
    Comment 3 of 26
  • Old Fogey of Poona Posted at 5:18 AM June 21, 2012
    Hear hear!
    Comment 4 of 26
  • bevleann Posted at 6:37 AM June 21, 2012
    Food for thought, Gary. This aspect hadn't entered my mind before. Thanks.
    Comment 5 of 26
  • Maggie Q of Qld Posted at 6:52 AM June 21, 2012
    Excellent and what is missing in many arguments commonsense. I am not in favour of same sex unions being called marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman it does not discriminate. If same sex unions want "equality" and get it why then cannot those who have multiple partners, indulge in incest and so on have the same equality. Right now Marriage means something this equality move is to undermine and destabilise traditional marriage and traditional families nothing more and nothing less.
    Comment 6 of 26
  • David of NSW Posted at 6:54 AM June 21, 2012
    So called marriage equality brings a whole mew meaning to the contractual concept of a 'sleeping partner'. Apples and seedless grapes have an equal right to the concept fruit, but it's unreaonable to call apples grapes or oranges mangoes, etc. Equality before the law is one thing; marriage is another. Legislation to give equal rights in law to consenting adults in same sex unions can be done by democratic process, but it is misleading to call such unions marriage i.e. a union between a man and a woman.
    Comment 7 of 26
  • Aussie Padre of Brisbane Posted at 7:04 AM June 21, 2012
    Great article, Let Homosexuals like tens of thousands heterosexuals that choose civil unions be satisfied with the same. I can see a high court challenge if it is passed, and it will be funded and be bigger than Mabo.
    Comment 8 of 26
  • Jan of Noosa Heads Posted at 7:54 AM June 21, 2012
    So post menopausal women should not be allowed to marry (or remarry) then? Seriously if that's the best argument you can come up with Gary, same sex marriage becoming law looks like a pretty safe bet to me. Sexual orientation does not change a persons humanity so in the sad event of a break up why would the homosexual adults involved be any less likely to put their concern for the childrean first? People of all orientations are perfectly capable of loving and caring for children and should not be prevented by law from living their lives and caring for any children they choose to raise. I am a hetero woman of a certain age and married my husband many years ago at the age of 49. I can tell you raising children was not one of the reasons we decided to marry! It is time to take the blinders off and let Australia be an equal society - I promise you, the Churches won't fall down.
    Comment 9 of 26
  • Charles of Brisbane Posted at 8:07 AM June 21, 2012
    This is an exceptionally weak argument against homosexual marriage. If one if serious about "saving the kids" on these grounds, one would ban divorce or single parenting on the premise that the very best thing is woman and man sticking together as a nuclear family. Well, the rest of our society has moved on from that Victorian thinking, and this is not the depths of Catholic Limerick. Kids don't need their biological parents to stay together. They need a loving, secure family environment with suitable role models. A functional heterosexual couple, whether or not married, is one solution to that. For much of human history, it was a broadly extended family within the village. This debate is not so much about homosexual marriage. It is really about the power of churches to arbitrate in one of the few domains within which they still claim authority. In modern Australia, we have stopped overtly persecuting single parents. We live longer, so the troubadour ideal of everlasting love is harder to sustain. We ought not retain medieval concerns about whether love is between heterosexual or homosexual couples. Don't use children as human shields against the love in others' lives.
    Comment 10 of 26
  • Swing voter of Perth Posted at 8:29 AM June 21, 2012
    Thank you John for some common sense wisdom.
    Comment 11 of 26
  • M of Adelaide Posted at 8:31 AM June 21, 2012
    Good arguments. I am a bit more basic I am afraid. I am interested in the shrill demands to be able to join an institution that so many have been bagging for so many years now. All of a sudden it is a denial of human rights for homosexuals not to be able to bring theselves under the Marriage Act. Five years ago you would be forgiven for thinking its days we're done. Well it is a denial of human rights to deny people the right to marry a la polygamy - or their beloved and devoted pets - or a combination thereof. A rich source of work will be denied to my legal colleagues, but so be it. We as a community are being manipulated (again) ....
    Comment 12 of 26
  • Marcus Hall of Brisbane Posted at 8:52 AM June 21, 2012
    Gary, Where in the marriage act does it mention children!
    Comment 13 of 26
  • donkeygod of Cardiff, NSW Posted at 9:01 AM June 21, 2012
    Marriage evolves. It's adaptable. Different cultures have made it work in dramatically different ways -- still do. That's what we're trying to achieve here. And it's not an impossible task, I'm sure of that much. Just because it's worth doing, though, doesn't mean that any old way of doing it is better than nothing. Well-established cultural norms don't change by reason of a government fiat -- not without horrific long-term damage. I'd bet my house that most of the public disquiet threatening to derail SSM is due to the perception that renovations to the 'institution' of marriage are the product of an activist committee, and that the real beneficiaries will be lawyers who'll turn our pious good intentions into a cash cow they can milk for decades. We need to 'evolve' change, not simply 'declare' it. Setting a deadline and summarily announcing that marriage has been 'fixed' isn't just undemocratic. It's the kind of hubris that wrecks lives, damages society, turns opponents into bitter enemies, and produces history's most spectacular tragedies. Wouldn't it be far, far better to do this carefully than quickly?
    Comment 14 of 26
  • Goldcoaster Posted at 9:08 AM June 21, 2012
    In my view marriage is a union between one woman and one man. I do accept and support the need for same-sex couples to have a legal and societal framework to recognise their partnerships. But I would not support the term 'marriage' for those unions. Perhaps another term can de developed that would be acceptable to all?
    Comment 15 of 26
  • Rebecca Posted at 9:27 AM June 21, 2012
    Well you've tried to cover all the bases to defray opposition to your argument,but really you're just grasping at straws.
    Comment 16 of 26
  • Sandy Lindsay of Perth Posted at 9:44 AM June 21, 2012
    Thank you for your article. I often say I would like to see a new term used in this debate. I do not "fear" those who consider themselves homosexual (homophobia), but I "fear for" them in just the way you have described. Without the intervention of a third party, homosexual partners are on a path to their own extinction. What does concern me is the amount of social enginering required to provide the natural to the un-batural.
    Comment 17 of 26
  • BruceS of nswcentral coast Posted at 9:59 AM June 21, 2012
    Thank you for an informative and accurate article. The rot started when Saint Michael of Kirby was head of the Law Reform Commission, at which time he was wilfully breaking the law whilst pushing reforms that has lead us to this present farce. I predict that the next step will be to legalise paedophilia, or at least, lower the age of consent, as the first step.
    Comment 18 of 26
  • NevilleW Posted at 10:11 AM June 21, 2012
    It is a perfectly valid point that Gary Johns makes. I see the lobby for gay marriage as just another breakdown of civil standards by succeeding generations. Each generations wants more than it's predecessors, but this one should be resisted mightily, I see it as a recipe for more troubled children (and thence adults) than needs be. Marriage is not perfect but it is the best we have, leave it alone.
    Comment 19 of 26
  • Philip Crowley of Brisbane Posted at 10:15 AM June 21, 2012
    Well said Mr Johns.
    Comment 20 of 26
  • Anthony of Ryde Posted at 10:55 AM June 21, 2012
    I think this is the best argument yet made against same sex marriage. The best outcomes for raising children comes from children been bought up by their biological parents in a loving and committed relationship. However there is a strong point for the parliament to legislate civil unions - providing gay couples with an option to formalise their relationship.
    Comment 21 of 26
  • Chris Turnbull of brisbane Posted at 10:56 AM June 21, 2012
    Gary the difficulty with your argument - at least as far a family law is concerned - is that a same sex de-facto couple with children can already be parties to proceedings under part VII of the Family Law Act. There are many reported decisions about precisely the scenario you mention (the third party issue). Changing the marriage act ( or not) will make no difference to the jurisdiction or powers of a family law Court.
    Comment 22 of 26
  • Brian Greig of PERTH Posted at 11:29 AM June 21, 2012
    For goodness sake Gary Johns, marriage is NOT about children. Many people marry with no intention of having kids, including older couples, the infetile and those who just dont like or want them. More importantly, same-sex couples do not need marriage in order to have kids. A marriage certificate neither helps nor hinders procreation - witness Penny Wong and partner. However, heaps of research shows that kids do best in married households. As such, denying the thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples the right and opportunity to live within the framework of civil marriage only disadvantages those children. If you really care about kids with gay parents Gary, then let the parents marry.
    Comment 23 of 26
  • Trish P of WA Posted at 11:45 AM June 21, 2012
    A clear and balanced article without the emotional and moral carping that is usually associated with this debate. I feel quite conflicted about this whole issue until I bring myself back into the reality of child-rearing and all it entails and realise that marriage is about children, not "rights" and "equality"
    Comment 24 of 26
  • M D'Ortenzio of Melbourne Posted at 12:13 PM June 21, 2012
    Many people come to relationships with baggage. In fact every 2nd marriage is so. And of course even first marriages sometimes include other parties, ask any recently married person what they think of their in laws, or any highly religious married person who is married to a less devout person. The argument that homosexuality is a special case is due to its recent taboo and legal state. This is a view that will take time to dispel, and one that would be helped along by legalizing gay marriages. The point about increasing complexity is a fair one, but on the balance not sufficient to deny citizens a marriage.
    Comment 25 of 26
  • DD Casson of Douglas Posted at 12:18 PM June 21, 2012
    Well said Gary. Couldnt agree more with your analysis on marriage. I support equality but this debate is not about equality as all forms of intimate relationships currently have equal legal status. The issue needs to focus on what is best for rearing and development of children and not the individuals wishes for recognition of their particular relationships. About time the real agenda behind changing the marriage act was exposed. Keep up the heavy hitting Gary.
    Comment 26 of 26

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