Posted by: duncandrews | August 19, 2011

Same-sex marriage consultation

Here’s a letter I wrote responding to the current consultation that MPs are undertaking with their constituents regarding same-sex marriage. It’s not the best – just what I could bash out in 20 min. The pollies are giving the results of their consultation soon – next Wednesday I think – so if you want to voice an opinion, do it now! It’s easy to do – just go here. Doesn’t have to be long or profound, just tell your pollie what you think.


Dear Ms. Plibersek,

In response to the current consultation regarding same-sex marriage, I wish to state my objection to making any changes to the current definition of marriage. While I deeply regret the often abrasive and pejorative nature of the debate from both sides, I nevertheless believe any change to the legislation to enable same-sex marriage would be a mistake, and ultimately detrimental to our society.

While the argument from tradition does not make the case on its own, it is still significant that marriage, defined as a lifelong exclusive union of a man and a woman and open to bearing and raising children, has overwhelmingly across cultures and through history been understood as the foundational unit of society. A change of this definition is a fundamental change to our understanding of society, a change which once made will be virtually impossible to retract. The magnitude of the change means that it must be given its full weight, not changed quickly due to pressure from lobby groups or minority parties. It certainly means it is unjustifiable for your government to seek to change this law without an election mandate, given that you went to the last election explicitly stating there would be no change.

I am not, however, interested in tradition simply for tradition’s sake. I believe there are good reasons behind the definition of marriage as it stands. As a Christian I believe marriage is a gift from God, given to promote human flourishing – for the good ordering of society, for the proper, self-sacrificial and full expression of our sexuality, and for the raising of children by their biological parents. I understand these purposes can not always be met, such as in the case of adoption; nevertheless the ideal ought to be maintained and promoted. I don’t expect convictions arising out of my commitment to Christ to be decisive for others. In a democracy, however, these convictions have just as much a place to be heard in the public square as do those of my secular atheist, agnostic, Muslim or Hindu fellow citizens.

There is one significant point that I believe we can and ought all agree on. In the current debate the needs and rights of children seldom feature as significant. Arguments for same-sex marriage seem to often focus exclusively on the desires of the adult couple. But the right and need of a child to be raised by their biological parents must be given serious consideration. As stated before, there are exceptions. What’s more, I happily concede that some same-sex couples are able provide loving environments for children. But the ideal of children being cared for by their loving male and female parents ought to be upheld and will, I believe, be undermined by allowing same-sex marriage. Scenarios such as the recent case in NSW of a father’s name being stripped from his child’s birth certificate in favour of the child’s mother’s lesbian ex-partner may well become more normal; something which undermines the fundamental connectedness between a child and both of their biological parents.

I appreciate the rhetorical and emotional power of arguments claiming that opposition to same-sex marriage is, a priori, bigoted, excluding loving couples from an institution out of fear of a marginalised ‘other’. However, I hope you can see that is not my position. My opposition is not based on fear or a desire to oppress my homosexual friends. Aligned with my Christian convictions, and consonant with the vast weight of social ordering through history, I believe the traditional view of marriage is genuinely good for society, providing, when it functions rightly, a safe, loving environment in which children can be raised by their biological parents.


  1. Fantastic letter Duncs.

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