The electorate of Wright, which I serve, is no different. I am a firm believer that, if a fellow politician wants to be brave, they should stand up before an election and use this issue as a platform in order to try and win government. I do not agree with the wider view that marriage in Australia has changed since the 2010 federal
I wholeheartedly support the coalition in believing that the definition of marriage contained in the existing provisions of the Marriage Act of 1974 appropriately affects the common understanding of marriage in the Australian community: 'The union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.' I am not persuaded that this definition should be changed. It is not a piece of legislation that can or should be considered lightly. The effect of making any changes to the Marriage Act as it currently stands will have many psychological and social implications, which at this point in time are not well researched and understood. I am not just talking about the welfare of children.
Firstly, I must highlight to this parliament that I was brought up in a family with strong Christian values. While I am no saint, I stand by these values because they have been and continue to be a fundamental moral compass for my life. In a speech on 13 February 2012, the member for Melbourne spoke about love, stating that it has no boundaries and no limits.
However, I say that love is a feeling, just the same as anger, frustration, confusion and hate. I certainly do not feel it necessary to try and convince the parliament that I should be allowed to act upon it with anyone I meet. The same Christian values that I was brought up on have helped me to understand that. Can you imagine the consequences for society if we were to legislate acts of violence, for example, due to the feelings of hate? It would be a disaster.
Secondly, I made a commitment to the preselectors of Wright before the last election that I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman and that I intend to honour that commitment—a concept sometimes foreign to the people on the other side of this House.
Thirdly, I question the long-term effects the amendments to the Marriage Act will have on children who will become the innocent victims should we fail to ensure that we accurately know and understand the psychological and social effects of growing up with same-sex parents. This is not an area where we should be allowing experimentation. In a speech for the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 on Friday, 4 May 2012, Professor Tom Frame highlighted that same-sex marriage cements an alienation of one children from one or both biological parents.
My last point is in relation to the perception that some of the arguments against the bill are discriminatory.
My decision to not support this bill is not aimed to discriminate or separate those who choose to have a same-sex relationship, because I am convinced that the changes to the Marriage Act as it currently stands will do far greater harm to our society. The Prime Minister pointed out on ABC's Q&A on Monday, 11 June, that there is no practical discrimination against same-sex couples in Australia.
In 2008, 85 laws were changed in favour of those same-sex relationships and was supported unanimously by Labor and the coalition removing all discrimination in Commonwealth law. State law was genuinely ahead of the Commonwealth on this but relationship registers or their equivalents in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT ensure that there is no discrimination at state or territory level.
I also bring to the attention of parliament the speech of 13 February. The member for Melbourne made an inaccurate statement when he said that a change in the Marriage Act will make it clear to those same-sex relationships that the parliament believes that their love is equal. The parliament has never, to my knowledge,
stopped everyone from falling in love. However, marriage is not an automatic action just because I or someone else had fallen in love. If that was the case, I am sure that the majority of society would be married several times over to many people, and think what would happen to those people who love their pets.
In a submission to the Senate inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012, family law expert Professor Patrick Parkinson said that in Australia functional equality has already been achieved. He said:
I am not aware of any legal rights and obligations that arise from marriage that do not also apply to registered
same-sex unions, other than the right to call the relationship a marriage. Certainly that is so in federal law. For example, there is complete equality in terms of rights in relation to the division of property and the payment of maintenance on relationship breakdown.
In conclusion I say that, on issues as significant as this, we want to take it to a federal election. Let the people
have their turn. I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.