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Thursday, 20 September 2012
Page: 7461

Senator HOGG (QueenslandPresident of the Senate) (11:14): Speaking to Marriage Amendment Bill (No.2) 2012, I am opposed to it. I have a deep-seated belief that marriage is between a man and a woman exclusively. Marriage is a specific relationship between a man and a woman that cannot be replicated, mimicked nor aped by trying to redefine some other form of relationship as marriage.

There are a range of relationships that people enter into in our broader community. Some of those relationships are private matters between the individuals concerned, and I tolerate them in so much as people have a free will to enter such relationships as they choose. But it does not mean that I have to accept or support those relationships.

Legislating to change the definition of marriage cannot and will not change my long-held beliefs. Nor will it change the views of many others who share my views. To decry my views is to seek to discriminate against me and my beliefs. I utterly reject the offensive language of some of those supporting the bill that people who share my views are 'discriminatory' or 'homophobic'. This is absolute nonsense of the first order and is a desperate resort to try and isolate those who do not share their views.

It is patently wrong to say that those in same-sex relationships are being discriminated against. Even within the context of international conventions and Australian law, there are no grounds to say that same-sex couples are being discriminated against. It is worthy of note that, under a Labor government lead by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, some 84 Commonwealth acts were amended to remove any discrimination that might exist for same-sex couples living together. The Marriage Act was not identified as one of those acts. And as for human rights, there is absolutely no evidence that there is any breach of anyone's rights by retaining the current definition of marriage.

Whilst marriage over time has taken some knocks in the way different societies have treated it, it still remains the fundamental organisational unit around which society is organised and will remain so. No stable, credible alternative form of societal organisation has been found to it.

I am somewhat appalled at the prospect, if the bill were to be passed, of religious schools and institutions who do not subscribe to the alternative definition being the subject of vilification because they do not want to act contrary to their own beliefs. This transgresses the boundary of reasonableness and tolerance in a pluralist society. Whilst the sop from the proponents of the bill is to exempt ministers of religion from performing a marriage as defined under their bill, it does nothing to protect the extensive network of schools and institutions run by religious organisations to uphold their own values within the institutions without being subject to legal action and further legislation which conflicts with their mores.

I support fully the dissenting report by individual Labor Senators Furner, Polley, Bilyk, Sterle, Stephens, Gallacher and Bishop in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee report dated 25 June 2012. I will oppose this bill.