About this issue
Welcome to the final issue for 2012. The year has flown and the next issue will be the first of those to be published in the federal election year, 2013. So the Journal will carry many articles related to election issues.
Before we enter the “election cycle” I thought it advisable to run articles on the major campaigns and concerns of 2012.
The campaign to legalise same-sex marriage has been the most publicised and sustained for 2012. It came to a head in August when two federal bills, one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate were defeated. Both votes were decisive. The House of Representatives voted against same-sex marriage 92 to 48 and the Senate 41 to 26. The battle then shifted to Tasmania where a same-sex marriage bill was, again, defeated in the upper house (the Legislative Council) 8 to 6. So those of us working to defend natural marriage as the foundational social institution vital for providing the optimum circumstances for children and for the stability and cohesion of society and a healthy economic foundation, can be pleased with three wins out of three rounds.
The results show we can win the vote on marriage. However, these were just the first rounds in what promises to be a long drawn out battle for natural marriage. There are Green’s same-sex marriage bills in South Australia and Victoria and being drafted in NSW. The battle is not over yet. Mr Neville Rochow SC of the South Australian Bar provided a legal opinion to the “Save Marriage Coalition” (SMC) in Tasmania on the constitutional questions raised by that state’s same-sex marriage bill and was part of a delegation from the SMC which briefed the members of the legislative Council on the eve of the debate. An edited text of Mr Rochow’s address to the 2012 News Weekly Dinner in October, Turning the tide on same-sex marriage: A case study of the arguments presented in Tasmania, is reproduced in this issue. With same-sex marriage bills in South Australia and Victoria and a cross-party committee drawing up a bill in NSW, Mr Rochow’s account of the struggle to defeat the Tasmanian bill is most timely.
Having won the first three votes we now have to win the debate. At the heart of this debate is why young people do not seem to understand what marriage is. With wide-spread divorce and co-habitation the meaning of marriage has been lost to young people. A significant minority don’t experience marriage that lasts in their family of birth or are not even born into a marriage. By rough estimates 40% of children are not being raised in a marriage. For this reason – and partly because the main teacher union, Australian Education Union supports the normalisation of same-sex relationships in schools – the education system no longer teaches young people about marriage or the meaning of the word “matrimony.” So while young people still say they want a lifelong happy family they don’t understand that this involves the commitment that, when given in marriage, can provide them with a family and a lifelong happy relationship. Our big task is to work out how to convey this message about the importance and the meaning of marriage to young people and show that marriage can deliver them a long life of great happiness and contentment. What Marriage Means in Today’s “New Normal” by David and Amber Lapp explores this question and concludes that what is needed is to show young people that the perception of marriage as merely individual happiness is false. It is not enough to promise that marriage brings health, wealth and happiness. The message must be sent that marriage exists to safeguard (and therefore will deliver to them) what they hold dear: love and family.
And of course marriage protects children. Those who support same-sex marriage argue that children raised by same-sex couples do just as well as children raised by their biological parents in a marriage. The article The Kids Aren’t All Right: New Family Structures and the ‘No Differences’ Claim by Ana Samuel reports on two new peer-reviewed studies which show that family structure does matter and children do best when reared by their married biological mother and father. The studies challenge the claim that there are no differences in outcomes between children raised by parents who have same-sex relationships and those raised by their biological mother and father and that this claim is not “settled science.”
On the topic of families, the Australian Family Association is one of the organising bodies for the World Congress of Families VII to be held in Sydney in May, 2013. The theme is “Happy Families, Healthy Economy.” The extract from Professor Patrick Parkinson’s paper, Another Inconvenient Truth: Fragile Families and the Looming Financial Crisis for the Welfare State deals precisely with the reverse of this, ie “Unhappy Families, Unhealthy Economy.” Professor Parkinson details the economic costs to society, obvious and hidden, of family breakdown. He writes; “These costs affect not only the adult partners to the relationship and their children, but may also affect the parents of each of those partners.” The effects are intergenerational. Further he says the cost of family breakdown is to a significant extent borne by taxpayers. While economies were growing and public revenues increasing these costs could be absorbed. However, with the international financial debt crisis so serious the costs will not be so readily absorbed in the future. Turning around the breakdown of the family is an economic imperative.
I wish all readers a very happy Christmas and a New Year of renewed energy and commitment. I’ll be back next year.