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Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee

BROOKMAN, Reverend Ronald Charles, Member and Advisor, National Marriage Coalition

MUEHLENBERG, Mr Bill, Spokesman, National Marriage Coalition

CHAIR: I welcome representatives from the National Marriage Coalition. We have a submission from you which we have numbered No. 134 for our reference and on the website. I now invite you to make a brief opening statement before we go to questions.

Mr Muehlenberg : Early on in the submission—on which Gerard Calilhanna did a good job and unfortunately could not make it; he is from Sydney—one of the opening things he did say is that, if this goes through, everything will change. Same-sex marriage legalisation will impact everyone and everything. That is what I wish to further highlight. Unfortunately I have just come back from interstate. I do have a three-page document to table, if I may, but I do not have the 12 copies. My apologies for that. But at least I can give you one. It is that I will speak to briefly just highlighting the fact that indeed everything will change and for many promoting this that is part of what they actually want.

Two things can be said. One, critics will often claim that we have had several nations now moving in this direction and the sky has not caved in so what is the big deal. To that we would say simply: major changes like this, obviously, do not simply take place overnight and maybe it will be decades and decades before you see the full ramification of such a major social shift as this. Having said that, however, it is still the case that we can look at those countries—or, say, US states, for example—where either civil unions or same-sex marriage has gone through and we can see what is now happening there and how that is impacting others.

In my three-page document I simply look at newspaper headlines from the past 12 months from around the world and Australia in which very real changes indeed have been taking place. Everybody is actually impacted. Whenever a law is passed, of course, it becomes normative and there is not only then this right to, in this case, same-sex marriage but then obviously governments want corresponding obligations or duties to ensure that that right is fulfilled. So everybody will be implicated one way or another. Let us look at a few of those many headlines I have just tabled—they are all referenced and dated with place and newspaper and so on. In Canada, a court has just decided that marriage officials must carry out same-sex marriage, no matter what their persuasion, their conscience, their cultural background or their religious belief and so on. There is a US Army court martial for chaplains who in any way oppose the homosexual agenda. In the UK, a Conservative Tory MP is saying that any churches that refuse to hold same-sex marriage should be banned altogether. Another MP in Holland is saying that all same-sex marriages must be honoured by everybody, no matter what their persuasion. In the US, homosexual activists have said the Salvation Army's Christmas fundraiser should be shut down because of their stance on marriage and homosexuality. In Ontario, Canada, it is said that by 2013 every single teacher must undergo diversity training, which is very much pro homosexual issues. In New Jersey a judge has ruled a Christian retreat house which refused to allow a same-sex civil union must be dragged to court and face the music. In Amsterdam, a chief rabbi was suspended simply for taking a stand on heterosexual marriage. Activists have attacked a church just recently in the US for its view on same-sex marriage.

The Dutch cabinet has just decided that every school must teach about homosexuality. The European rights court has decided that Sweden has every right to jail those who criticise homosexuality. In America a Virginia schoolgirl who gave testimony much like this on same-sex marriage is now receiving death threats and hate mail. In Alberta, Canada, not only every school must have diversity education but so too must home schools. Many people are fleeing the state system thinking they are safe in home schools. One pamphleteer in Canada who handed out a tract on this issue has been committed to a psychiatric ward. A Christian minister in the US has been accused of hate crimes simply for stating his view that marriage should be between a man and a woman. A lesbian with kids in a Catholic school has demanded that the catechism be removed because of its view on homosexuality. A bishop in Spain who simply gave a sermon on homosexuality is now facing prosecution. In Kansas, a law is forcing churches to hold same-sex weddings and marriages and receptions. In Iowa, seemingly a fairly conservative state, lesbians took a Christian cake maker to court because she refused to make a cake for their wedding.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The three-page document obviously provides many more, plus the references, and in my new book on this topic I have heaps more. Every day we are finding these sorts of examples. When the other side say legalising same-sex marriage will not impact anybody—there will be no downside to it—with all due respect they are being quite disingenuous. It changes everything. If you look at the US state of Massachusetts, for example, which has had same-sex marriage, the implications are enormous. Parents especially are rising up, very concerned about what is happening even in their kindergartens. This is not just having the minor impact that many seem to think it is having.

CHAIR: Mr Brookman, do you have an opening statement?

Rev. Brookman : Yes. For over 30 years I was homosexual and I desired nothing more than to find a male partner with whom I could share the rest of my life. I experienced grace over many years and much counsel that enabled the transformation of my sexuality to heterosexuality, and I have now been happily married to Ruth for over 18 years—and joyfully I am the father of three children. For 30 years I yearned for homosexual union with all my being, but I became disillusioned with both the superficiality and the transience of gay relationships. Gratefully I have found stability and depth of love that I could never experience in my homosexual attempts. I am now a minister of the Uniting Church and leader of a ministry called Living Waters, which resources churches and supports people who struggle with issues of sexuality and relationships—not just gender issues but abuse, addiction et cetera. In the last six months I have celebrated with two ex-gay men, who have married beautiful wives, and with another two couples who have given birth to babies who would never have been born had the man not converted from homosexuality. I believe that something greater is at stake here for our nation and the rights of one minority group.

Heterosexual marriage is honoured and distinguished above all other relationships because it is foundational to society. This is not just a Judaeo-Christian concept. Aristotle and Confucius, from the west and the east, over 2,000 years ago stated that marriage was civilisation's foundation, providing social cohesion for the birth and nurture of children to perpetuate society. To alter civilisation's foundation is not to exercise freedom. Freedom is not unqualified license to do what we like; that leads to anarchy. Rather, freedom is a response of the human heart to the unchanging moral truth that is imprinted within it to which all civilisations and complementary gender bears witness. Marriage actually reflects human anatomy and innate desire. It is very meaningful. With matrimony and the taking of a wife is the implication of husband and wife, male and female, for the procreation of children, so what we are looking at in this is a changing of the definition of marriage. It is not a matter of people being discriminated against. Marriage immediately discriminates. I cannot marry my mother. I cannot marry my daughter. There is immediate discrimination in marriage. It is not a matter of discrimination; it is a matter of looking at and working with that definition, because it has been the foundation of our society.

Rather than promoting equality, same-sex marriages actually devalue both genders. The union of two of the same gender sends a message to the excluded gender that they are not as valuable or even necessary in life. The narcissism of male homosexuality, which I know a lot about, diminishes the value of femininity; it really does. The frequent enmeshment of lesbianism tends to judge masculinity as not desirable, quite dispensable and even dangerous. Male homosexual unions by their very essence often become open unions and include other partners because the visual stimulus of two males causes them to mutually look beyond themselves lustfully, lacking the feminine otherness to bring the boundary of exclusivity. Lesbian relationships are often subject to enmeshment and to emotional power struggles that thrive in the absence of male objectivity. Same-sex union neutralises gender, celebrates their confusion, and so tears at the glory and the essence of humanity. These are very important points.

Not all gays and lesbians want marriage. They want freedom to have open relationships—to move from one to another quickly, such is the nature of homosexual lifestyle. I know of lesbian couples—because I honour and respect people of all sexualities and so speak to, do business with and befriend them—who take a sceptical view of marriage, not wanting to equate their relationship with what they see as a flawed hetero institution. The push for same-sex marriage is not universally from the LGBT community at all, but a push for social reconstruction from a very small but vocal and powerful minority. I believe that we have completely overestimated the push in Australian society for this. As our submission shows, polls have been skewed to make it appear as though our egalitarian, fair go society says, 'Yes, go for it.' But, when push comes to shove and specific questions are asked, another aspect of Australian personality and culture comes in from the point of view and says, 'Just a minute, whoa, let's slow up here! What are the actual effects of this? How is this going to affect us?'

When the specific questions are asked, the polls are not nearly as convincing. In fact, more people are specifically against same-sex marriage than the fair go analysis suggests.

The other thing is that I am concerned about children contrived by same-sex parents later facing the pain of having been separated from one of their biological parents. As a pastor, I am working with a lot of people in a lot of pain who have never known who their biological parents are. There is a whole sense of 'Who am I?', 'What is my heritage?', 'Where do I come from?' and 'To whom do I really belong?' This is a really painful thing when you are working at grassroots with these people—and same-sex marriage is only going to further encourage this. That is my opening statement.

CHAIR: What perplexes me about some of the arguments I am hearing is this—and I put a similar question to witnesses yesterday in Sydney. On the two occasions—not at the same time, thank goodness for my bank balance; the occasions were seven years apart—when one of my daughters came home to say, 'I want to get married,' to be perfectly honest with you, the first thing that came into my head was not children—when, where or how many. In fact, I did not think about that at all. The two things I put to them were, 'Is this the right person for you?' and 'This will be for the rest of your life.' I do not see an emphasis on that from people who are defending the current definition of marriage. They always tend to put an argument in the context of the children rather than in the context of two people who not only love each other but are in love and who intend to remain so for the rest of their natural life. 'Therefore,' I say to myself, 'if that is the case, why should it not just be between two people?'

Mr Muehlenberg : The simple answer is that there are all kinds of loving, long-term relationships which governments have nothing to do with. You could have two sisters—any number of combinations. The only reason governments have had a keen interest in heterosexual marriage is because it is a social institution in which children are indeed possible. Does every union result in children? No, of course not. But the exception does not make the rule. The purpose of every book is to be read. But, if you buy a book, put it on your shelf and never read it, it does not become a non-book because of that. Generally speaking, books are about reading; generally speaking, marriage is about at least an openness to procreation.

If there were no children involved, there would be no reason for the state to be involved whatsoever. There are all kinds of relationships out there in society which governments have no need to stick their nose into. But, because we are talking about the most important fundamental relationship on earth—the raising and rearing of the next generation—societies all around the world and throughout all of human history have recognised that this is an important social institution and that therefore it deserves special recognition, favour and even benefit, if you will. It confers so many great benefits to society that societies have said, 'We, in turn, will confer special recognition on you—which all sorts of other relationships may not require.'

CHAIR: Can I also put to you that a lot of submissions have taken us through the journey of moral conscience, an evolution of a whole number of issues—the right for women to vote, for example. Once upon a time it was thought that, if we could actually vote, the sky would fall in. My husband probably thinks the sky has fallen in, actually. Then of course we were able to stand for parliament. When I started primary school teaching here in Victoria, if you became pregnant you had to resign from the teaching service. There was no such thing as paid maternity leave. Society changes and evolves. So do you accept in any way at all that society has evolved to the stage now where it accepts that people of the same sex can have such a deep and long-lasting relationship that they want to actually cement that in a marriage licence?

Mr Muehlenberg : Three quick points come to mind. The first is that evolution, of course, is a two-way street: sometimes we can have progress; sometimes we can have regression. Not every change is necessarily always a change for the better. The second is that we are talking about apples and oranges here. To discriminate against a gender in areas like those you just mentioned is a far cry from redefining marriage out of existence. It is a whole different ball game, so I am not sure we can bring the two together. The third point, as Ron has already said, is that the truth is—and I have now documented this in two books I have written on this topic—that most homosexuals do not want same-sex marriage. This is a push, as Ron has said, by a small minority within another small minority, and it is more for the symbolic value. Right now, any homosexual couple can perform any kind of ceremony they want, they can have any private or public recognition they want, but the one thing they cannot do is redefine marriage out of existence. Acknowledging the differences between different things is not discrimination. It is how we work as a logical society.

So, sorry, these are not identical relationships. Therefore, governments are not under any obligation to recognise every other type of relationship, because only the heterosexual bond has this capacity, at least, to bring in the next generation—which, again, is the main reason why the state has an interest in marriage. If it were not for children, it would not be there in the first place.

CHAIR: Except that some people want to have that capacity to marry and have that marriage recognised; they want to opt in. As someone said yesterday, perhaps it is a good thing that people in same-sex relationships want to opt in to marriage because they recognise the sanctity of it, how special it is and how life long it is. Rather than denigrate it, they want to support it by being part of it.

Mr Brookman : I believe that gender is a very important thing: the glory of humanity, male and female. This is something that is deeply imprinted on our very psyche and being. One of the things that our submission shows that, for example, among gay youth growing up in Massachusetts, eight years down the track after homosexual marriage was enabled and legislated for there, the suicide rate is no lower. The problem, I believe, is the intrinsic and deep understanding that 'penis is made for vagina'. This is just who we as humans are.

So, with respect, Senator Crossin, things like giving the vote to women, which was well overdue, are very different issues from the essence of the anatomy and who we are as human beings: male and female. Somehow that just does not seem to add up. It brings depression. It brings great problems. The solution to that is not saying, 'Hey, let everybody marry!' As societies that have gone down this track are proving, it is not getting rid of the depression or the aptness towards suicide. There is something deeper within that we really need to be addressing and helping people to come to terms with: if you are feeling off-centre here—and I have been off-centre; I know what it is like—how can we best support you? Changing the fundamental institution that underlines every civilisation, particularly this nation, is not going to solve that problem in the least.

CHAIR: I have one other question I want to ask you, Mr Muehlenberg. I see here the list of newspaper articles you refer to. One of the articles you have mentioned is 'ABC presenter stood down for voicing Katter ad'. I understand why you have made reference to that, but I also want to perhaps challenge you: don't you think the ABC presenter was stood down because the ABC has a policy that presenters cannot be involved in party political activities? So, no matter what issue Bob Katter put on his billboard, that ABC presenter would have been stood down because it breaches the ABC's guidelines in respect of being involved in political parties. I understand why you have given us the list. I guess I am questioning why some of them are actually on that list. I think that headline is there not because of the gay marriage but because of the breach of the ABC policy.

Mr Muehlenberg : I am happy for the sake of argument to leave that off. That leaves another 40-odd headlines. The point is that, whether or not we pick and choose one or the other that we are not quite happy with, my intention was that everything changes when special rights in general are granted to homosexuals—same-sex marriage in particular. Everything changes, and of necessity. Whenever a so-called right is created by a government, corresponding duties must be enforced. We are seeing this played out everywhere in the Western world where civil unions, special rights and same-sex marriage have been legislated for. So if you are unhappy with one item then I am happy to concede that one, but I think my point remains in the overall list.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: It seems from what you have put forward, what is in your submission and the article headlines that you have included, clearly identified by Mr Brookman, that your opposition to this bill is not opposition based on the issue of same-sex couples being able to marry. Your opposition is to same-sex couples. Your opposition is to homosexuality. When we are talking about a civil marriage act, you have spoken about the fact that you believe that marriage is all about the procreation of children, yet that is not what the Marriage Act says. Have you read the Marriage Act, Mr Brookman or Mr Muehlenberg?

Rev. Brookman : Not in full.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I suggest that you do, because in the current Marriage Act it does not say that marriage is for the creation of children. You may believe that, but that is not what the federal Marriage Act says.

Mr Muehlenberg : It says it is 'the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others'.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Yes.

Mr Muehlenberg : You want to change the gender requirement, in which case why not change the numerical requirement?

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Because that is not what my bill does.

Mr Muehlenberg : Let us say there is a bisexual who loves his woman and his male friend. It is a threesome. They are fully in love. The same arguments that you are making for same-sex marriage can be used for polyamory, and that argument is being used.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: You may argue that.

Mr Muehlenberg : It is happening right now.

CHAIR: Senator Hanson-Young, just let the witness finish.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: You may argue that, but that is not what the bill before this Senate inquiry does. The bill before this Senate inquiry clearly states that marriage is between two consenting adults.

Rev. Brookman : Male and female.

Mr Muehlenberg : Man and woman.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: No, the bill that we are currently inquiring into—

Mr Muehlenberg : The Marriage Amendment Act 2004 says 'a man and a woman'. It is quite clear. Both houses of parliament voted for it.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: The bill that is currently before this Senate inquiry changes the Marriage Act.

Mr Muehlenberg : Yes, and we are against that.

Rev. Brookman : That is why we are here.

Mr Muehlenberg : We are opposed to it.

Rev. Brookman : That is right. That is why we are here.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Yes, except that there is nothing in the Marriage Act that says that marriage is about the creation of children. That is my point. Yet your whole submission is based on that. You have not even read the Marriage Act—you have just admitted that—and your whole submission here is against homosexuality, which is not what—

Rev. Brookman : With respect, Senator, we are not against—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Mr Brookman—

Rev. Brookman : Can I please speak.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: If I could finish, this is not in the bill that this Senate inquiry is inquiring into.

Rev. Brookman : With respect, we are not against homosexuality. We are for people's freedom to choose their sexuality and how it is that they will live. This is not an anti-homosexual thing; we are not here for that. We are here—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: But you just went through the fact that people's particular anatomies were relevant to this discussion. What has that got to do—

Rev. Brookman : That is certainly so. They are.

CHAIR: Senator Hanson-Young, let the witness finish.

Rev. Brookman : That is certainly true. I will stand by that.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: The use of people's particular pieces of anatomy is relevant?

Rev. Brookman : Yes, because that is who we are as human beings. And we are talking here about—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: And you do not believe—

CHAIR: Senator Hanson-Young, just let the witness finish.

Rev. Brookman : We are talking about the glory of humanity and of the human being in gender, male and female. Historically through every civilisation marriage has essentially meant the taking of a wife. Why? The taking of a wife for procreation. That is implicit in what marriage is about; implicit is the heterosexuality. Anything else is not marriage. We are not here opposing—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: We are talking about the federal Marriage Act.

CHAIR: Senator Hanson-Young!

Rev. Brookman : Yes, we are. That is right. So that is why we are here advocating for the federal Marriage Act to remain as it is with the delineation of male and female, as it was amended in 2004, because that reflects the glory of humanity and the way that humanity is made, male and female.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Of men taking their wives.

Rev. Brookman : Or of a woman taking a husband but it is—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: You were just talking about the historical nature.

Rev. Brookman : Yes, I was.

CHAIR: Senator Hanson-Young, I am going to throw to Senator Pratt, thank you.

Senator PRATT: Reverend Brookman, you made reference in your remarks to the transience of homosexual relationships. Surely you would acknowledge that people seek to access the institution of marriage because their transient days are over and that that is true of heterosexual people.

Rev. Brookman : My point is that among the LGBT population very few are actually wanting to marry and to approach marriage because of the fact that they recognise that the natures of their relationships do not lend themselves to marriage. There may be a very, very, very small minority of people who are wanting to commit in that way. We are not saying, 'Don't commit.' What we are saying is that marriage, given the way it is defined, does not enable you to commit under the Marriage Act, so come up with another act and come up with a name for what you are doing but do not change or muddy the understanding of what marriage is about and of how marriage has been the foundation of every civilisation as marriage reflects the glory of gender and complementary gender.

Senator PRATT: So you would argue that those hundreds of Australian couples that have gone overseas and got married, because they cannot access the law here and they are simply not married, are still transient?

Rev. Brookman : I am not saying every relationship is transient. What I am saying is that amongst LGBT people the majority of relationships are transient. That is statistically shown.

Senator PRATT: And yet when people express a desire to not be transient? Do you think that it is good for them to be transient? Why would you exclude them from an institution?

Rev. Brookman : Then choose another term but do not call it marriage, because it is not marriage.

Senator PRATT: But to give it any other term, I would contend, would make us guilty of exactly what you are saying. It is transient in nature because it is not marriage and it does not confer the status of marriage. That is why the use of the term is important, precisely so because it is inherent in the nature of it, that it is a mutual commitment between two people.

Rev. Brookman : So they take it as a same-sex, lifelong covenantal relationship. But that is not what marriage is. That is our argument.

Senator PRATT: You have raised the question that marriage is indeed, in your mind, only for heterosexual couples.

Rev. Brookman : And is so in civilisation's history.

Senator PRATT: No, I would contend that is not actually the case and that civilisation's history has been very diverse and there are indeed many historical instances of same-sex marriage and also marriage for people who have a third gender—and that is also not uncommon.

Rev. Brookman : There may have been relationships, but it has not been called marriage in the past.

Senator PRATT: No, but different communities confer that status on a diversity of couples. My question to you, Mr Brookman, is this. You implied that marriage can only be between a man and a woman—if that is the case, are you actually saying that Australia's gay men out there should go and get married to women? That would be terrible blight on our society, I would have to say.

Rev. Brookman : I am clearly not saying that and I am not implying that marriage can only be between a man and a woman; I am clearly stating that is what marriage is. It is not an implication; it is a statement. But I am certainly not saying that therefore everybody must get married.

Senator PRATT: If it is the only institution from which people can obtain that security and exclusivity, then surely it is entirely unfair to wish on people that gay men should be marrying heterosexual women.

Mr Muehlenberg : There is no unfairness whatsoever. I cannot get married. I am already married. The rules are quite clear: one partner, opposite gender, not a close blood relative. If you meet those three criteria, anyone in the world can get married. If you refuse to meet the right criteria of the game, do not insist you are being discriminated against. You are saying: 'The rules do not apply to me. I want to change the rules. I want to make this something that it has never been.' I am sorry, but that is not discrimination. Treating different things differently is not inequality of discrimination; it is facing reality. With all due respect to the Greens, I know they do not believe anatomy matters. Senator Hanson-Young would not be here if anatomy did not matter. None of us would be—come on!

Senator PRATT: Some 54 per cent of same-sex-attracted people want to get married. Those are the latest statistics. You have said that it is a minority of people.

Rev. Brookman : On what basis is that?

Senator PRATT: It is the Queensland University study.

Mr Muehlenberg : The response is easy. Politicians on the news say: 'We can't put too much weight on the polls. They come and go. They change. It depends how the questions are asked.' The truth is as I quote in my book—I have done two books, one with Rodney Croome, whom you have probably already had speak here. I look at what they are saying. Do not worry about what I am saying or what Ron is saying—what are they saying? They overwhelmingly say, 'We do not really want marriage.' Of those who say they do, many admit it is for the whole purpose of overturning marriage and changing it fundamentally. They do not like marriage and they do not like traditional family. They admit in their preference that they want to undo the institution of marriage. It is a symbolic win; it is a public affirmation and all that goes with it. Many do not personally want marriage. That has been shown time after time in the polls.

Senator ABETZ: In relation to the issue of family and children, I ask you to cast your mind to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which talks about, in article 23:

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State—

and then, interestingly, in subsection 2 of the article, it says:

The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized—

which of course gives us the direct link that marriage is not only an institution in itself but about the founding of a family. That is the way the term marriage has always been understood. Often legislation might say something like 'Bicycles will have to stay on bicycle paths' without necessarily defining what a bicycle is—because most people accept what a bicycle is, as opposed to a motorised vehicle. Is that part of the thinking in your submission?

Mr Muehlenberg : Again, contrary to what we just heard, no society on earth has ever legalised same-sex marriage. Marriage as a union between a man and a woman open to procreation has been the fundamental norm throughout human history—anthropologists, sociologists all admit to this. Sure, there are minor variations here and there—absolutely. But to fundamentally say that marriage is about any number or any gender—no society has sustained that position. Certainly none have brought it into legal standing. And for good reason—because that would be the end of society. Society depends on strong families. Families depend on marriage, having a mother and a father raising and rearing the next generation. The importance to children to have that biological commitment from their own parents is so overwhelming that all societies have acknowledged that and accepted that. They have not needed, as you say, to define marriage—it was a given.

If we simply look at the anomaly and the really quite bizarre nature of this, we are here defending marriage and family. It is much like saying, 'I'm going to have to come to a committee and defend breathing or eating.' Come on! You just do it; it is natural. But we live in unnatural times. We live in a time when everything is being thrown on its head. Some call it progress and evolution. Others call it regression.

I believe we have to defend marriage as a natural function of society, as the only way, up until recently, in which children could be raised and reared. It really is quite mind-boggling how rapidly we have changed that we have to come to these very definitional things which up until now have been just common sense and quite natural. Sure, in a lot of the earlier documents they did not need to stipulate 'a man and a woman'—it was a given. Of course everybody knew it was a man and a woman. But today we live in funny times, so now we have to be more specific.

Rev. Brookman : One of the other real concerns is for children. As has been mentioned, in order to normalise something that is unnatural, education has got to be changed. As Bill made reference to in his headlines there, the instruction of departments of education in Massachusetts, in Canada, in Holland is to teach homosexual sex as 'normal'. My concern there is for young kids who are developing their sexuality to be exposed to the teaching of homosexuality. There is an elephant in the lounge room here from the point of view that children have got the right to make a natural progression towards heterosexuality without having these other possibilities thrown in.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: What has this got to do with marriage?

Rev. Brookman : It has got to do with the fact once same-sex marriage is legalised then the next step is that we have got to now start to legislate. Apart from it just being a civic, basic right it becomes a particular act of parliament which is changing the very nature of marriage, so the whole educational system has got to be changed. What is actually natural is going to be challenged, and it is being challenged. In nations where this has happened thus far, what is natural is challenged in PD, HD or similar courses which is precluding young children having a natural and normal development towards heterosexuality, where—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: So, again, it is a problem with homosexuality that is at the core of your—

CHAIR: Senator Hanson-Young, I think you have had your turn.

Senator ABETZ: The point in the document you provided to us, Mr Muehlenberg—which was not identified for the Hansard but was Same-sex marriage: everything will change, dated May 2012—is that if you legalise it then you come to a situation where those that might want to argue against it might be accused of defamation, for example. Senator Hanson-Young would know where that comes from because that is what she has now asserted, that anybody that argues against the traditional definition of marriage is, to quote her from the Australian, 'extremely, extremely defamatory'. That is hardly the type of tolerance that is being asserted as lying behind this legislation. This is: we change the legislation and then anybody that seeks to assert against it, and even argues this might be a detrimental move and society should reconsider, could well be accused by the Greens of not only being engaged in defamation but extreme defamation.

CHAIR: Senator Abetz, this is cutting into time for the next witness.

Senator ABETZ: Understood, thank you Chair.

CHAIR: Mr Muehlenberg and Rev. Brookman, we have finished with your submission and evidence today, so I thank you both very much for your time.

Rev. Brookman : Thank you for your time. I do apologise if I became overly passionate. Senator Hanson-Young, thank you for the work that you do in many areas in terms of ecology and the environment. We really appreciate what you do.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Thank you.