It is common ground in the same sex marriage debate that if the postal survey produces a Yes majority, then the people’s verdict should be respected and Parliament support an amendment to the Marriage Act. There is less generosity of spirit if the outcome is a No vote. Bill Shorten has said that his party will not accept such a result. Nor will the Greens.
This contest highlights just how important it is for the Government to spell out, before the postal survey is completed, what steps it will take to protect parental rights, freedom of speech, and religious freedom in the event of same sex marriage becoming law. The case for these protections is compelling given the experience of other countries such as the UK, US, and Canada in the wake of those countries changing their marriage laws.
This issue must be addressed before the survey is completed; leaving it as something to be taken up only in the event of a Yes vote prevailing is the equivalent of saying that it does not matter very much. If a Yes vote is recorded there will be overwhelming pressure to “move on”, legislate as quickly as possible, and then put that issue behind Parliament. There will be scant opportunity for serious consideration of protections in the areas I have cited. Very likely, those raising such matters will be met with achorus of put-downs, and accused of attempting to frustrate the verdict of the people.
Thus far, the government has said that religious rights will be protected, but not how – merely stating that it will facilitate the private members’ bill. On the evidence to date, it would seem that the only protection in that bill will not go much beyond stipulations that no minister, priest, rabbi or imam will be compelled to perform a same sex marriage ceremony.
Same sex marriage will not be the end of this debate. As the safe schools debacle showed, there are education activists ready to introduce classroom material regarding gender issues unacceptable to the mainstream of Australian parents. These activists will use a change in the definition of marriage to renew their push. Parents are entitled to know what steps would be taken to ensure that this does not occur.
尽管有昆士兰技术大学电脑室争议，和对已故漫画家Bill Leak的无耻迫害这些强有力的证据, 更加上政治评论家Andrew Bolt提出各样理据支持应该对种族歧视法18C进行改革，但这条法律现在还是毫无变动。这是一个不好的征兆：一旦我们修订婚姻法，我们现有的议会没有能力建立我们更改婚姻法后所需要的有效保护。
Despite the powerful evidence for reform presented by the Andrew Bolt case; the QUT computer room dispute and the disgraceful hounding of the late Bill Leak, the obnoxious 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act remains unscathed. This does not bode well for the capacity of the current national Parliament to enact any effective protections of the kind that will be required if our marriage laws change.
Those campaigning for a Yes vote call any reference to these issues “red herrings” or distractions. On the contrary, they are legitimate concerns. It is completely disingenuous to assert that a change of this magnitude to a fundamental social institution does not have consequences. It is precisely because Parliament should reflect the will of the people that the people are entitled to know what, if anything, the Government will do on protections before the survey is completed. Otherwise people will not have been fully informed when they cast their votes.
前澳大利亚总理霍华德 John Howard 授权。
Authorised by John Howard, Sydney