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As you may be aware from 12 September, Australians will start to receive their ballot papers for the marriage postal vote. All of us will be given the opportunity to vote on the way our nation defines marriage, family and gender.

There is a great debate going on at the moment about whether to change the definition of marriage to include gay marriage. Proponents of gay marriage argue that there will be no negative consequences if the definition of marriage is changed from being between a man and woman to being between two persons. At first we may think ‘perhaps they have a point’.

A good way to get a feel of how it may affect each of us and our Church is to consider the consequences in different areas of life or to look at overseas case studies where such legislation has been enacted. You will see that, apart from being contrary to the Orthodox teaching on marriage, the consequences of changing the definition of marriage to include gay marriage are many and far reaching. See below for more information:

Consequences of Same-Sex “Marriage”

  1. AUSTRALIA & AROUND THE WORLD.: All over the world we’re seeing the effects of legalising same-sex marriage and it doesn’t look good for objectors (read more) (watch video)
  2. AUSTRALIA: What are Australian law groups saying about forcing Churches to marry gay couples (read more)
  3. AUSTRALIA: Employee sacked for having conflicting political views with employer (read more)
  4. USA: Christian Photographers cannot refuse gay ceremonies (read more)
  5. USA: What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts (read more)
  6. USA: Adults raised by Gay Couples speak out against gay marriage (read more)
  7. USA: Catholic adoption agency closes – adoption & same sex couples (read more)
  8. USA – Massachsetts: What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts (read more)
  9. DENMARK:  Denmark forces Churches to perform same sex marriages (read more)
  10. CANADA: Ontario passes ‘totalitarian’ bill allowing gov’t to take kids from Christian homes  (read more)
  11. CANADA: Hundreds of Canadians face legal proceedings over same sex marriage (read more)
  12. CANADA: Marriage Commissioner ordered to pay damages for refusing to marry two men. Canada redefined marriage in June 2005 under then Prime Minister Paul Martin. (read more).
  13. CONSEQUENCES for the ideal of biological mother-father parenting (read more)

 CANADA: MARRIAGE COMMISSIONER ORDERED TO PAY DAMAGES FOR REFUSING TO MARRY TWO MEN.

Canada redefined marriage in June 2005 under then Prime Minister Paul Martin.

In the same year, Saskatchewan marriage commissioner Orville Nichols refused to perform a wedding for two men. Taken to court, it was declared that he did not have the right to refuse to perform the wedding, and he was ordered to pay $2,500 to one of the men. In July 2009, Nichols lost his appeal, with Justice McMurty ruling that the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission had correctly “established discrimination” and that: accommodation of Mr. Nichols’ religious beliefs was not required.’

In 2011, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejected proposed amendments from the Saskatchewan Government that would have allowed commissioners such as Mr Nichols to refuse to marry same-sex couples for reasons of conscience.

One of the proposals was that only those commissioners who were employed before the law changed to allow same-sex couples to marry would be exempt; this proposal was also dismissed. The Court of Appeal said that giving marriage commissioners the ability to refuse to marry same-sex couples would be “contrary to fundamental principles of equality in a democratic society” (Re Marriage Commissioners Appointed Under The Marriage Act (2011) SKCA 3, [161].)

It appears that same-sex marriage legislation ensures that even fundamental rights such as religious freedom, guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Canada’s Human Rights Charter, are not safe.

In New Mexico, which still defines marriage as a man-woman union, photographer Elaine Huguenin was found guilty of unlawful discrimination by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission when she declined to photograph a “commitment ceremony” for two women. Huguenin, who runs her photography business from home, was ordered to pay over $6,000.

New Jersey has also not redefined marriage, but does have a same-sex civil union scheme. Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Christian retreat, refused a request from two women to use the resort for a civil union ceremony. Judge Solomon A Metzger ruled that it was not a religious freedom issue, and that “some intrusion into religious freedom” is necessary to “balance” other goals.

SOME AUSTRALIAN LAW GROUPS IN THEIR SUBMISSIONS TO FEDERAL PARLIAMENT ARGUED THAT CHURCHES BE LEGALLY COMPELLED TO MARRY GAY COUPLES.

A submission from the Discrimination Law Experts’ Group recommended said:

‘We believe that the religious exceptions should be removed because we do not accept that religious rights should prevail over the rights of individuals to be treated in a nondiscriminatory way in public sphere activities.

The Equality Rights Alliance recommended that exceptions:

‘for religious organisations which would enable them to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity should not be included in the consolidated [anti-discrimination] Act’.

The Human Rights Law Centre was particularly harsh on religious exemptions. It acknowledged:

 “with disappointment… the Government’s pre-determined position on the maintenance of permanent exemptions for religious bodies” and said such exemptions are “manifestly inappropriate and inconsistent with Australia’s human rights obligations and international best-practice”.

CONSEQUENCES FOR THE IDEAL OF BIOLOGICAL MOTHER-FATHER PARENTING

Consequences of same-sex marriage for children – Best interests of children.

The first serious consequence of redefining marriage would be to remove the ideal of biological mother-father parenting. Not only would this ideal be removed from the law, but it would send the message more broadly that our society does not value motherhood and fatherhood, at least not highly enough to protect in law.

As Girgis, George, and Anderson argue in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy:

“If same-sex partnerships were recognized as marriages, however, that ideal would be abolished from our law: no civil institution would any longer reinforce the notion that children need both a mother and father.”

 (Sherif Girgis, Robert P George, and Ryan T Anderson (2010), What is Marriage?, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol 34, No 1, pp 245-287, p 263.)

In Massachusetts, parents are unable to remove their children from sex education classes that teach views on sexuality that differ from their own. Since legalising same-sex marriage in 2004, teachers often normalise homosexuality in sex education, and teach its equivalence to heterosexuality.

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: CATHOLIC ADOPTION AGENCY CLOSES – ADOPTION & SAME SEX COUPLES

In 2006, Catholic Charities in Boston were forced to close because of a law that would have obliged the adoption agency to place children with same-sex couples. The redefinition of marriage in Massachusetts meant that Catholic Charities would have had to go against clear Catholic teaching.

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