Do same sex unions weaken the institution of marriage or do they just put an end to exclusion?

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

There was a tearful moment on The Project last week as Magda Szubanski recounted a story about a same sex couple who were not able to be in the same room while one of them received a painful treatment.

The story became horrifying when she described how, due to next-of-kin doubts, the woman was forced to listen to the screams of her loved one from outside of the room.

It would be difficult to imagine a more excruciating situation than not being able to comfort the one you love in a time of need, because you are not recognised by the law as their legitimate partner.  

It has been said same sex unions weaken the institution of marriage. But it seems the institution of marriage works to weaken same sex unions. 

The only institutional change of legalising same sex marriage will be to the legal definition of “marriage”, which currently excludes same sex couples. 

The exclusion “of all others” than the coupling of a man and woman was added to the Marriage Act in 2004 by then-Prime Minister John Howard with no public consultation.

Anti-discrimination laws already apply to same sex relationships across the board, including parenting, child support, maintenance and the division of assets, including superannuation.

Legalising same sex marriage is not related to same sex adoption. This is because getting married does not prelude a decision to have children and vice versa.

Further, it has been common practice for same sex couples to adopt children for many years now.

Controversial posters in Melbourne referencing the study that 92 per cent of children in same sex homes are abused are considered incorrect, as the study was based on 20 children, a minuscule sample size that no credible data can be drawn from.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said there is “no putative, peer-reviewed evidence to suggest that children raised in same-sex parented families suffer poorer health or psychosocial outcomes”.

Traditional marriage advocates have called the push for same sex marriage an assault on modern religious freedom.

Civil marriage is different to religious marriage. Changes to the Marriage Act will not impose an obligation on a minister of religion to solemnise any marriage.

The Bible has just six verses (or 0.016 per cent of the text) that could be interpreted to be speaking around same sex relations. 

The Bible does declare a man cheating on his wife with another man an abomination, but does not refer to a loving committed relationship between two adults of the same sex. It also declares that eating pork, trimming your beard and wearing a wool-silk blend are abominations. 

It has also been said that to vote “no” is to reject political correctness. 

The AMA declared the campaign against same sex marriage a public health issue, rather than an issue of political correctness, due to the elevated rates of suicide (up to 14 times higher) in the LGBTQI community caused by public stigmatisation, rejection and abuse. 

It can be concluded then that there are no major legislative ramifications, negative outcomes for children or biblical basis in opposing same sex marriage. 

The reduction of pain, isolation and suicide in our community is something any moral person would be in favour of. This is a good opportunity for all of us to contribute to a happier, safer Australia in our own small way. All we have to do is vote. 

Emma Elsworthy is a Fairfax journalist.