Defending the Truth of Marriage

Friends:  The timeless treasured truth of marriage is worthy of our full support.

It’s historic and vital status makes it as relevant today as when it was first instituted.  

The reason? - Because it is the pre-eminent forum in which to socialise the next generation.

Marriage provides the security and certainty of knowing your biological parents, your biological heritage, and a starting point to work from for your family tree whilst providing the diversity and different perspectives of female and male role models. (As an aside – ever noticed how we need gender balance in every one of our society’s institutions, the courts, the parliaments, the boards of companies you name it - and I don’t disagree – but somehow we no longer need gender balance in society’s first ever and most important institution that was designed with absolute strict gender balance? – I of course speak of marriage).

We owe it to future generations to protect marriage as the pre-eminent forum in which to socialise the next generation against any superficial campaigns which seek to redefine marriage by blithely asserting that its core values and features can be jettisoned without serious consequences.

Marriage existed long before judges and legislators and activists.  Those campaigning to reject the truth of marriage have at best one decade of experience to draw upon in a few countries.

On the other hand those who advocate for the truth of marriage to protect our society’s children have millennia and a wealth of different world views on which to draw – our own Indigenous people, the Jewish tradition, the Muslim tradition, the Pacific Islander and of course, the very foundations of our society, the Christian world view.

And now that I have dared to mention the word ‘Christian’, can I thank the Christian Churches of Hobart and the Australian Christian Lobby for organising tonight’s event and C3 for hosting us.

The Christian faith has worked untold good for society in all its facets, be it in the law, charity, medicine, education, the arts - you name it.  And whilst it is fashionable in some quarters to deny the transformational nature of the Christian faith and its foundational importance for our society, historians, like our own national treasure Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC, are under no such delusion.

We have a lot for which to be thankful given that we live in a country with a deep and rich Christian heritage.

Friends, we can be bold and confident in rejecting the campaign to deny the truth of marriage and redefine it.   Indeed, we must be bold and confident for the sake of our society.

History is littered with superficial and populist campaigns being allowed to get a head of steam whilst good people who knew better sat idly by.

Your presence tonight indicates that you are not cut of that cloth nor are you of that ilk.  You care for our society and its pre-eminent institution and that is of great encouragement to me and my colleagues.

I encourage you all to get involved in educating the community by writing letters to the Editor and advocating for the cause of marriage.

When campaigners start telling you the success of their cause is “inevitable”, be wary – very wary.  It is often the sign, the tell-tale sign, that their campaign suffers from superficiality, from a paucity of rigour.  

Remember the “inevitable” republic?  Everyone who wanted to be someone it seemed said a republic was “inevitable” and all the media screamed vote “Yes”.

And the Australian people very sagely voted “No”.  

In cold war Europe there were those saying “better red than dead” - why resist communism?  The inevitable communist takeover thankfully never happened at all.

Other than death and taxes along with media bias (on this issue it seems) nothing is inevitable.   It will only be inevitable if you and I let it be inevitable.

Another tactic used by some campaigners for redefining marriage is intimidation, some of it singularly unattractive.  

There is the name-calling: “bigot”, “hater”, “homophobic” - you know the drill.  Our master of ceremonies tonight has been subjected to it.    Just today we had another nasty letter to the editor by someone demanding tolerance for himself claiming our distinguished Archbishop is alone, ostracised, and without support.  Well I for one stand with the Archbishop as does the world view of Muslims, Jews, our Indigenous people, Pacific Islanders and, yes, the Christian world view too.  Our Archbishop is hardly on his own but the campaigners try to create this impression to intimidate people into silence.

I happen to know what it is like, Your Grace.   I recall being told on morning media by a talking head there was no place in Australian politics for people like me – Reason? – “because we are a tolerant society”.   The hypocritical intolerance dripping from that remark was of course lost on both the talking head, and the interviewer.

The Archbishop was also recently attacked for advising parents that send their children to Catholic schools what the beliefs of the Catholic Church were on marriage.   It seems that in this new ‘tolerant world’ Catholics won’t even be allowed to teach their beliefs to their own flock.

When prominent gays like Dolce and Gabbana condemn the campaign to redefine marriage they are viciously attacked both verbally and economically by Elton John and others.  Which highlights the fact that even those identifying as homosexual are not homogenous when it comes to the campaign to redefine marriage.  Many of them oppose it for the reasons we do, without any reliance on religious belief.

When a heterosexual person announces they are now gay they are paraded as “coming out” and the media salutes their “honesty”.

Ever noticed when a gay person goes straight, we never hear about it.  Their “coming out” and “honesty” is airbrushed out of the debate as though it never happens.  Well it does, and their evidence is given to Senate committees, but of course never reported.

Similarly the emerging studies highlighting the balance of gender in the family, our pre-eminent unit of socialisation or, so that I can understand it, having a biological mum and dad in a marriage is the best way to bring up children are simply not reported.

And those who dare to discover such findings are personally vilified.  (I suppose it saves having to argue the evidence). 

And the evidence is clear, common-sense tells us as that, as do peer reviewed studies. Indeed one researcher was so vilified; it prompted the President of America’s National Association of Scholars to publish an article on “the straining by critics to find faults in an otherwise exemplary work of social scientific scholarship”.

And what about the life stories of those who regret they were brought up in households lacking gender diversity: they simply aren’t reported or are shunned. Thanks to social media their stories are getting out and should give us cause to stop and ask questions. 

As another aside have you ever noticed how a certain cohort of environmentalists always argues the “precautionary principle” to protect the environment: don’t proceed until you can absolutely prove no harm will be done?  It seems this bedrock principle of theirs vaporises and is utterly unnecessary when discussing the environment for the raising of the next generation.

If we can change the truth of marriage and if we can change the meaning of words by a Court’s decision or a Parliament’s vote then nothing is for certain.

If the complementarity of the genders in marriage and its purpose can be erased for one section of the community, why not another?

If “love” is the only requirement, then what has gender got to do with marriage? or family relationship?, or sexual activity?, or numbers? 

Yet when these issues are raised by us they are slapped down by one highly articulate commentator as “crap” desperately ignoring the sage advice of the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court when he said the reasoning “would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”

Interestingly the US Supreme Court’s tortured decision redefining marriage is opposed by more Americans than support it, according to the most recent poll – another thing you won’t get to hear about in the media.

Some put the proposition – just allow us to deny the truth of marriage and we will allow you to practice your beliefs – the so-called ‘religious exemption.’  What they are saying in practice is - we are so “tolerant” we will give you an exemption to practice your religion.  A free society does not legislate exemptions to permit people to practice their innate or God-given rights.

They are and should be a given - it is part of the natural law.  A right that no government has a right or authority to give or take away.

And what about the atheist or agnostic homosexual who opposes redefining marriage?  What right, if any, will they have to exercise their consciences?

The experience in other countries shows denying the truth of marriage is not the end of the debate but is the start of draconian decisions which sees

  •          Christian venues and colleges being forced to accommodate same sex couples;
  •          Adoption agencies that believe in mum and dad having to close;
  •          Teachers being forced to teach in support of redefining marriage and homosexual activity;
  •          And, yes
  •          Someone is suing Zondervan, a publisher of the Bible, for damages because it does not condone homosexuality.

To sum up –

Marriage is society’s first institution which got gender balance absolutely right.  It existed long before judges and legislators.

It is the best forum to bring up children – providing biological certainty and gender diversity.

The truth of marriage has withstood the millennia.

It is embraced by all historic world views.

Many homosexuals reject redefining marriage.

Change is not inevitable.

Where the change has occurred it is not the end of the debate BUT the beginning of restricting individual rights and liberties.

Children denied gender diversity in their up-bringing are warning us not to go down this path of redefining marriage.

The reasons, the rationale, the rigour of the case for maintaining the truth of marriage can and needs to withstand the superficiality of the campaigners for redefinition.

As the then Liberal Attorney-General said in Parliament on 24June 2004.

“The government has consistently reiterated the fundamental importance of place of marriage in our society.

It is a central and fundamental institution.

It is vital to the stability of our society and provides the best environment for the raising of children.

The government has decided to take steps to reinforce the basis of this fundamental institution.”

This position was supported without dissent in my Party Room as government policy - no one at the time suggested it was a conscience issue.

Similarly it was Labor’s policy - this was only ten short years ago.  As it was five years ago at the 2010 election. 

Now we are supposed to believe that somehow the unanimous view of the Liberal and Labor parties at that time was wrong and that our forebears for the previous millennia have also got it wrong.

I was pleased to support that legislation and its rationale at the time. I continue to do so.  I will continue to do so.

Thank you for having me this evening and God bless.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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