Dozens of ACL supporters and I were in the public gallery of Parliament House yesterday to hear Bill Shorten attempt to abolish gender in marriage.
We were also there to pray. And we fervently mouthed the Lord’s Prayer with the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, and the government quorum.
After an hour or so of mundane parliamentary committee reporting to a mostly empty chamber, Bill Shorten and 30 or so of his MPs wandered in and took their seats.
“Our laws should tell our children what we believe,” Mr Shorten declared.
That is very true but do we really want them to believe children have no right to know who their biological parents are?
Mr Shorten’s bill abolishes the words ‘man and woman’, ‘husband and wife’ and replaces them with ‘two people’.
The trouble is for a child conceived through assisted reproductive technology, this wording replaces their natural mother or father with a complete stranger.
Marriage is of course a compound right to form a family.
As the Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher wrote, not every marriage produces children but every child has a mother and a father.
Do we really think Australia’s ban on commercial surrogacy can be sustained if marriage equality for two men is legislated?
Do we really think it is ok to deliberately sever the primal bond between mother and baby, father and child?
Should we be commercialising carrier wombs and women’s egg donation? Should we leave a surrogate mother with milk in her breasts but her baby in the arms of two men?
Should we never enact a Senate committee recommendation to ban sperm donor anonymity?
If we do not allow all of these things, ‘marriage equality’ is meaningless.
After a week of frenzied media reporting and politicking in the wake of the Irish referendum, the definition of marriage was under attack like it had never been before.
Many politicians have changed sides.
Yet few people have thought of the consequences.
After Mr Shorten’s speech, the debate on his bill was adjourned. It won’t go to the vote.
However, work will begin on a bi-partisan bill that can be ‘owned’ by the parliament.
This will most likely be debated and voted on in the second half of this year.
This is not a time for silence. We have a few weeks and months to raise our voices.
More than 30,000 of you have emailed your local MP. Thanks. Thanks to those who have phoned their offices or visited. Please keep this up.
Please go to acl.org.au and download Timeless, our new resource about marriage and public policy.
Share it with your friends; get the conversation about marriage and the rights of kids happening.
Most importantly, please pray for our nation.
This is a seminal time.
(Read some of your letters to MPs http://marriage.greekorthodox.org.au/2015/06/read-your-letters-to-mps/)