Michelle Grattan reporting
Date: October 4, 2012
FEDERAL opposition spokesman on families Kevin Andrews has warned that legalising same-sex marriage could lead to an acceptance of group marriage.
In his book Maybe ‘I do’: Modern marriage and the pursuit of happiness, out today, Mr Andrews also says that the assertion that redefining marriage will not affect other marriages is misplaced.
He writes that if same-sex unions are recognised by civil law, ”other arrangements can also be recognised. Once the state can no longer insist that marriage involves a commitment to a member of the opposite sex, there is no ground (other than superstition) for insisting that marriage be limited to one person rather than several.”
Mr Andrews’ comments come after Parliament rejected two bills to legalise gay marriage and the issue caused trouble for Tony Abbott, who forced parliamentary secretary Cory Bernardi to resign over comments he made in the Senate suggesting gay marriage could be a slippery slope to accepting bestiality. Senator Bernardi also said the next step from having gay marriage was three or four people being able to enter a permanent union.
Mr Andrews believes a consequence of defining marriage more widely would be greater state intrusion into family life. ”The state will be called upon also to create the social conditions to protect such unions. If the state can define marriage as something new and novel, it can define other arrangements. It can ‘educate’ people to accept this new arrangement, as has occurred in a series of cases in Canada.
”Freedoms, including religious freedom, subsequently come under attack. Even the understandings of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are replaced by ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’ or some similar language …
”Redefining marriage ‘politicises’ the institution in a dangerous manner,” he writes.
Mr Andrews, with a long involvement in marriage education, has taken two years to write the book and has been researching the issues for 20 years. He points to a growing ”marriage divide” in countries like Australia. University educated men and women continue to marry at high rates but marriage among the less educated with fewer assets has declined significantly.
”A growing marriage gap has opened up in Western nations. The well educated tend to marry each other. The less educated and poorer tend to marry less, but often have children,” he writes.
Australian Marriage Equality national spokesperson Rodney Croome dismissed Mr Andrews claims that legalising gay marriage could lead to multiple partners.
“The reality is that marriage equality strengthens families, which is something Mr Andrews, as a spokesperson on families, should support,” he said.
“Instead he is spreading the kind of myths and misinformation that harms the families of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.”
Asked about gay marriage at last night’s community cabinet meeting in Launceston, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said no State Parliament could amend the Federal Marriage Act.