Australian House of Representatives moves to affirm support for heterosexual marriage

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Australian House of Representatives

The Australian House of Representatives yesterday discussed as part of private Member's business a motion moved by Michael Johnson (Australian Liberal Party, Division of Ryan) that sought to affirm and "celebrate" support for marriage "between a man and a woman" and called on the Government to "enact policies that promote and strengthen marriage".


Johnson discussed the earlier amendment to the Australian Marriage Act passed in 2004 that effectively removed the possibility for same-sex marriage, and continued that the failed efforts of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to provide for civil unions within that state was a matter for "grave alarm". Johnson then argued against same-sex marriage saying that "Children come from marriage and families stem from marriage". Johnson criticized the earlier ACT legislation that provided for the dissolution of civil unions by letter to the ACT registrar, stating, "Marriage is a lifelong commitment". However, Johnson went on to discuss the breakdown of marriage and the status of single parents to argue, "surely we all agree that the best environment for the rearing of children is one that has both a mother and a father".

Chris Hayes (Australian Labor Party, Division of Werriwa), took a different stance in speaking to the motion, by discussing how the Government's new industrial relation legislation, WorkChoices, would affect the balancing of work and family life, and called for industrial legislation that would "support families into the future".

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Same-sex marriage in Australia

Margaret May (Liberal, Division of McPherson), the seconder of the motion, recommenced arguing against same-sex marriage, calling it a "social experiment", and went on to state, "Same sex relationships, or, indeed, unions should not have the same status as a marriage between a man and a woman". May concluded her speech by calling for support to "services to assist children, young people and adults and to continue sustaining safe, supportive and nurturing family relationships".

John Murphy (Labor, Division of Lowe) also affirmed support for heterosexual marriage, by stating, "Marriage is a natural bond between man and woman, recognized in the vast majority of cultures, whether Christian or otherwise", and added, "nature ordains the natural procreative function of man and woman". Murphy also addressed the amendments to the Marriage Act, saying, "this definition is the only valid recognition of our civil laws, which correctly reflects the natural law and moral law", adding, "You do not even have to believe in anything to draw that conclusion." Murphy however stated in conclusion of his speech, "we are all let down by those who … mask their support for marriage and who employ it as a weapon to attack the many other relationships in our society. Such attacks are unconscionable, unnecessary and unjustified."

Michael Ferguson (Liberal, Division of Bass) reiterated points raised by those before him, but also mentioned the issue of discrimination, saying, "there is different treatment under the law for different relationships. But this is not about dicscrimination against the indivdual and it is not designed to be." Ferguson continued to say, "As individual people, homosexual men and women have exactly the same legal rights as you or I".

Craig Emerson (Labor, Division of Rankin) quoted a House Committee report To have and to hold -- strategies to strengthen marriage and relationships, saying that the report was bipartisan and added, "the issue of marriage does enjoy bipartisan support in this parliament", and reiterated Labor's support for the Marriage Amendment, which excluded the possibility for same-sex marriage. Emerson concluded his remarks by again tying the impact of the WorkChoices to family life.

Further debate

No other members of parliament spoke against or criticised the motion before debate was interrupted.

Interestingly, the Australian Senate is yet to debate a motion moved by the Australian Democrats in order to repeal the Marriage Amendment discussed and institute same-sex marriage. The Australian Greens are also supportive of same-sex marriage, but neither of these parties hold seats in the House.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • Australian House of Representatives. "Hansard" —  June 19, 2006