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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9191


Mr SECKER (BarkerOpposition Whip) (20:36): I find it very interesting that the member for Newcastle, in speaking on the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 currently before us, said it was a retrograde step for Prime Minister John Howard to define marriage as being 'between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others', which of course is the definition of marriage in Britain. I was here at that time—as was the member for Newcastle, who is escaping the chamber to avoid hearing this. I do not remember the member for Newcastle coming into this chamber and speaking against that motion or voting against that motion; it did not happen.

I also remember promises being made during the last federal election campaign by both the Labor Party and the coalition to retain that definition of marriage. The Labor Party promised not to change the definition, and we in the coalition also said we would not change the definition. I know that not one member from my side went to that election suggesting that we would break that commitment or that they were against the definition of marriage being 'between a man and woman, to the exclusion of all others'. I am not aware that any Labor member went to the last election saying they would change that definition or were in favour of changing it. I may be wrong—it is possible that one or some did—but I am certainly not aware of it.

I know that those on the other side are quite happy to break promises they made during the 2010 election campaign. We had the famous example of the Prime Minister saying, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' But I think it is sacrosanct that members keep their commitments. If people are to trust politicians, it is very important that politicians, if they make a commitment or promise before an election, keep to that promise—unlike those on the other side.

I have been asked why I will not change my mind on this, and I am quite happy to say that I actually believe in marriage being between a man and a woman. That is not to say that I am against some sort of contractual arrangement of a different type for same-sex couples, but, when it comes to the word 'marriage' and the legal definition of marriage, I am proud to say that I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others. I accept that other people have different views. But, if they have gone to an election saying they will not change that definition and then, when the election is over, break that promise, I think it is a problem. It fuels the belief that politicians do not keep their promises. We are thought of badly enough, thanks to some promises which have been broken.

I am indebted to Brian Camenker, who has given us some information about what happened in Massachusetts:

On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced its Goodridge opinion, declaring that it was unconstitutional not to allow same-sex "marriage."

I believe it was a very close decision. Mr Camenker goes on:

Six months later, despite public outrage, homosexual "weddings" began to take place.

Let us have a look at what has happened since that time. Mr Camenker tells us:

By the following year it was in elementary school curricula—with hostility towards parents who disagreed.

He cites an example:

When … the parent of a kindergartener … calmly refused to leave a school meeting unless officials agreed to notify him when discussing homosexuality or transgenderism with his son, the school had him arrested and jailed overnight.

We do not want to see that in Australia. Above all, we do not want to see parental rights taken away by— (Time expired)