By Paul Dobbyn
CHURCH leaders and lobby groups continue to sound notes of caution as the push to legalise same-sex marriage persists.
Brisbane’s John Paul II Centre for Family and Life director Dr Ray Campbell said “talk of marriage equality is just rhetoric which avoids the real question”.
“So far we are not addressing the real issue which is the redefinition of marriage,” he said.
“The key impact of this legislation would be to negate the special significance of the husband-and-wife parental relationship.”
Dr Campbell said he agreed with Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s comments that media debate on the issue had been “one-sided and shallow”.
Australia’s Catholic bishops also recently issued a pastoral letter, Don’t Mess With Marriage, to parishes around the nation as the push for same-sex marriage legislation continued.
“We now face a struggle for the very soul of marriage,” the letter said.
“Redefining marriage in the way now proposed would see marriage reduced to a committed, affectionate sexual relationship between any two people.”
The Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Lyle Shelton renewed the call to the Liberal Party to stand by its principled policy on marriage by continuing to vote as one on the issue.
“Redefining marriage weakens family by separating children from their natural mothers and fathers through demand for ethically dubious assisted reproductive technologies such as anonymous sperm donation and surrogacy,” Mr Shelton said.
“By definition, same-sex parenting means intentionally removing a child from their mum or dad and this has serious consequences.”
The comments came the day after Labor leader Bill Shorten introduced a private member’s bill to legislate same-sex marriage. The June 1 bill was introduced to near-empty Government benches.
The Opposition Leader’s bill proposed replacing the words “man and woman” with the term “two people” to define who can be legally married.
Mr Shorten said Ireland’s recent “yes” vote in a referendum on same-sex marriage had stirred him to action.
“Let this law reflect the nation we all want to see in the mirror,” he said.
“Generous, smart, modern, diverse and, above all, equal.”
But the Coalition does not support such legislation and the House of Representatives voted on June 1 to adjourn debate.
Same-sex marriage supporters in the Coalition said they were working to bring same-sex marriage before the Parliament in the second half of the year.
Australian Marriage Forum president Dr David van Gend described Mr Shorten’s proposed redefinition of marriage as “breathtaking hypocrisy”.
“This act of Parliament would abolish a mother or a father from the life of future children, by a deliberate act of parliament,” he said.
“His Labor predecessors have wrung their hands and apologised for past policies that broke the primal bond between the generations, but Bill Shorten is ready to do it to children all over again.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he accepted same-sex marriage was a “significant issue”.
“But frankly, this Government’s absolute fundamental priority in the budget session of Parliament is to get the most urgent budget measures through,” he said.
“And by far the most urgent budget measure is the small-business budget boost.”
A Coalition party room debate on a free vote on the issue of same-sex marriage was expected on June 2, but failed to occur.
Meanwhile, in Toowoomba on June 1, Dr van Gend returned from an interstate visit to find his medical centre sprayed with graffiti.
“My name was painted in black along the northern wall of my surgery, with the word ‘bigot’ painted in red capital letters,” he said.
The matter has been reported to police.
“This sort of abuse is experienced by anybody who stands against the gay marriage juggernaut,” Dr van Gend said.
“However, it’s usually from trolls online, not vandals on the wall of a medical centre.
“It is time for leaders of the homosexual marriage lobby in the Parliament, the community and the media, to condemn this demonising of their opponents.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said such abuse of property had no place in the marriage-equality debate.
“But I also ask Dr van Gend not to jump to conclusions about the perpetrator, as this only inflames the situation,” Mr Croome said in a statement.