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Monday, 27 May 2013
Page: 3929

Dr JENSEN (Tangney) (20:24): This bill, the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2013, is an attack on marriage. Marriage is not just a word but an institution, and institutions exist because there is a common need for them and they serve a common purpose. The bearing and rearing of children is the fundamental purpose of marriage. There are those that see marriage as a simple expression of love. It is that, but far more, and the far more is the reason that same-sex marriage does not make sense. There are many avenues that people can and do use to express love, devotion and commitment to each other. Marriage is one of those, but it is far more than that. Marriage is about family. To those that attempt Orwellian doublespeak in calling this 'marriage equality', I say: you already have marriage equality. Anyone—gay, bi, heterosexual—can marry a partner of the opposite sex. There is no discrimination here.

This bill is a piece of enabling legislation: it enables the dismantling of society as we know it. In essence, this bill is the apotheosis of a movement bent on legislating a social experiment. Gay marriage is a social experiment. Social experiments have poor results when viewed historically. One need only think of phrenology and eugenics, both of which, thankfully, have been consigned to the dustbins of history but not before having damaging social consequences. We have not yet seen the fallout from this social experiment where it has been undertaken in other jurisdictions. There simply has not been the time. Let us make haste slowly.

The poison of this bill is that it replaces absolutism with relativism. This leads to crises of confidence and moral drift. Moral drift has social and economic consequences. Certainty is the most precarious and most precious commodity in the world. The social experiment proposed here today is too risky. The biggest risk is the unknown effect of normalising and legalising these types of microsocial compacts. It all pivots on the unknown and unintended consequences.

How can a child be brought into such a union? Certainly not as a natural result of that union. Is it not difficult enough to educate our children on reproduction facts without the added complication of a child with two mothers or two fathers? Yes, there are marriages where the relationship between the parents does damage the children. Yes, there are loving same-sex and single parents, just as with heterosexuals. But, just because bad parenting by natural parents can be pointed to, is that any reason to accept suboptimal parenting more generally? Clearly, all things being equal, it is preferable for a child to be raised by its natural parents, followed by a heterosexual adoptive couple. I can state, having my own children, that children need role models of both sexes, and it is far better that those role models are parents.

I now put forward the voices of the vast majority of the people of Tangney on the record for posterity. The following are arguments I have heard from my electors back in Perth: same-sex couples are not the optimal environment in which to raise children; gay marriage violates the sacred institution of marriage; same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage; we shouldn't alter heterosexual marriage, which is a traditional institution that goes back to the dawn of time. What will we be debating next? It is incumbent on all members of this place to step back and seek the counsel of time and good sense. We must not cave in to popular trends or fancies. Are we leaders or followers?

Only two decades ago or less, the same groups of people pushing for gay marriage today were decrying the institution of marriage as obsolete. So what has changed? There is no discrimination in the area of superannuation or life insurance for gay couples. Where would the next cut-off point be if this bill were to get up? These are the questions that gay marriage advocates cannot answer. Until such answers can be given to married people as to why they should accept such a fundamental change to their current status, I cannot as a representative of the people of Tangney support the member for Melbourne's bill.