It shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise to you to learn that a high ranking member of the Liberal Party vehemently opposes marriage equality within Australia. That ain’t exactly breaking news to anyone.
But it’s at least a little bit heartening to note that the issue is set to re-emerge from the bubbling Sulfur pit that is Canberra discussion and move back into the primary agenda. Liberal Democrat senator – and man of many conflicting political morals – David Leyonhjelm is set to introduce his “Freedom to Marry” bill into Parliament, which he hopes will in turn force the Liberal party to consider allowing a free vote on the issue.
Interestingly, Fairfax Media reports that a number of Liberal MPs are apparently reconsidering their position on the issue, with potentially as many as 11 MPs from the Government switching their stance to one of support since January alone.
In fact, supporters of a same-sex marriage bill are now quietly confident that it would be able to pass the Senate with a slim majority. But the Lower House remains far murkier, with numbers harder to predict.
This, in large part, is due to the unwillingness of those within the Coalition Government to publicly state their position on the matter, lest they upset the status quo and undermine the position of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is vehemently opposed to the bill.
But whilst some Liberal MPs have, in the past, publicly declared their support – including front benchers Malcolm Turnbull, Simon Birmingham and Kelly O’Dwyer, it’s sadly far more common for the opposing viewpoint to be the one that’s trumpeted from the mouths of the Government.
Former Immigration Minister and now current Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison is one such MP unafraid to make his feelings clear on the matter.
A letter from Morrison to one of his constituents, obtained and published by SameSame, reveals his unfettered views on the issue, and outlines in great detail his objections to any proposed change.
But, upsettingly, the views he details are genuinely more in line with those of the Australian Christian Lobby, asserting the usual tired rhetoric of heteronormative marriage being the best, and only, way a child can flourish. He even goes so far as to suggest that marriage and family breakdown, as it stands, is a “genuine national tragedy.”
The letter, in full, reads as follows.
Dear Fellow Australian,
Thank you for your email regarding same sex marriage. You may appreciate I receive many emails from Australians in every corner of our great nation on this issue and I seek your indulgence to reply via email.
Since entering the Parliament, and before, I have held very clear, consistent and public view supporting the current definition of marriage as a voluntary union for life of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. I have included links below to various speeches and articles where I have set out my position.
You will also note in these statements that I also support the view that no Australian should have to pay a dollar more in tax or receive a dollar less in benefits or superannuation because of their sexual preference. During the last parliament laws were passed to give effect to this objective with the support of both major parties.
The fundamental reason for my position was well summarised by our former Prime Minister, Hon John Howard AC, who stated when legislating the current definition “marriage, as we understand it in our society, is about children, raising them, providing for the survival of the species, and I think if the same status is given in our society to gay unions as are given to traditional marriage we will weaken that bedrock institution.”
For me this is ultimately about a child’s natural right to a mother and father. I believe that this right should be protected in all Commonwealth laws, especially the Marriage Act. I am extremely disappointed by the recent decision of the NSW Parliament to legalise same sex adoption. However, I do not consider this error should be compounded by our federal parliament.
Family is the most important institution in our society. Religions and cultures over centuries have held that family is optimally based on the union of a man and woman. I do not believe that tested wisdom over centuries has been overwhelmed by more contemporary arguments.
I acknowledge that in today’s society too many heterosexual marriages relationships fail. Family breakdown is a primary cause of poverty, disadvantage, mental illness and related conditions in our society today. The biggest victims of marriage failure and family breakdown are children. The social and economic costs of family breakdown are incalculable. This is a genuine national tragedy, not an argument for same sex marriage.
I appreciate that there are some in my community who hold a different views to those I have expressed on these matters. I know this because I listen to the different views that are put forward by people in my community on this matter and many other issues. I respect all of these views, however, I clearly cannot agree with all of them. I believe my responsibility is to be faithful to the principles and convictions I hold on this matter and to be up front and honest with my community about the reasons for holding this position.
On these matters, I will therefore continue my longstanding support for the definition of marriage in its current form as defined in the Marriage Act.
I thank you once again for raising this issue with me.
Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Federal Member for Cook
March 21, 2015
The offensive notion that two people of the same gender (or, indeed, intersex) declaring their undying love for each in front of whatever family, God and Government they want somehow weakens the bedrock of society aside, it’s again the weird assumption that allowing same-sex marriage means people who utilise it might otherwise have started a heteronormative family which is well beyond ludicrous.
‘Course the bottom line here remains the fact that nearly three quarters of Australians (some 72-odd percent) now stand in favour of allowing same-sex marriage within the country.
And with the apparent growing number of Liberal MPs switching their position, it appears the ball is well and truly rolling.
History never looks kindly on those who champion old-world and religious reasoning as motivation to block societal change. We might not get there tomorrow, but we will one day, in spite of idiocy like this.
Photo: Stefan Postles via Getty Images.